This page lists the various races on Mer, or elves, found on Nirn. For an index of all races, see here.
Note: Elder Scrolls lore is generally not clear-cut. Reasons for this range from biased in-universe sources intentionally only giving you only one side of a story, to sources lacking critical information or working from false information, to the implication that All Myths Are True, despite the contradictions, or that at least all myths are Metaphorically True. Out-of-game developer supplemental texts (frequently referred to as "Obscure Texts" by the lore community) are more trustworthy, but are frequently left unofficial and sometimes later contradicted. Because of this, it is entirely possible for two contradictory statements in the below examples to both be true. (And due to frequent events in-universe that alter the timeline, both may literally be true in-universe.)
The Elven races (or Mer in their language) of Nirn.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Altmer (and presumably the ancient Aldmer) are gold skinned, Bosmer are reddish-brown skinned, Dunmer are ash-gray skinned, Orsimer are green skinned, Falmer used to be snow-white skinned, the Dwemer were pasty off-white skinned, and Maormer are chameleon skinned.
- Atlantis: They have their own version called Aldmeris. It is said to be the continent the Precursors of the modern Mer races, the Aldmer, came from. It is said that Aldmeris came under an unknown threat in the Merethic Era and the Aldmer were forced to flee. It is said to be "lost," and whether it still exists (or ever existed at all, as other theories claim that Aldmeris was simply Tamriel before the races of Men arrived) is unknown. According to "The Father of the Niben," the Altmer sent out three ships equipped with guidestones that would lead them to where Aldmeris was supposedly located; one ship found Tamriel to the northeast, one sailed northwest toward Yokuda, and the last sailed south, in the direction of Pyandonea, home of the Maormer.
- Bling of War: Most races of Mer have an iconic armor type which fits. The Altmer have the popular Elven armor, which is gold in color. The Dunmer have the high quality Glass armor, which is emerald green in color. "Dwarven" armor originally worn by the Dwemer is bronze/gold in color. The ancient Falmer wore platinum colored armor. Orcs are masters at crafting with Orichalcum, which, while a dull gray in color, they craft into intimidating looking heavy armor. The Bosmer avert it by specializing in light armor or no armor at all.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Each race of Mer has traits, beliefs, and practices which come across as very alien to a human observer. Ranges from being played completely straight with some races of Mer who are utterly alien (Dwemer, some Altmer beliefs) to downplayed with others (Dunmer, Bosmer) but is extant throughout. Specific examples for each race can be found in their entries below.
- Can't Argue with Elves: Subverted, as many of the races of Mer (especially the Altmer) believe that they are unquestionably superior to both other Mer and the races of Men, but as shown time and time again, they are just as flawed.
- Classical Tongue: Aldmeris, the language of the Aldmer, is the Tamriellic equivalent.
- Demihuman: While primarily humanoid in size and shape, each race of Mer shares at least a few features outside the range of normal humans including unusual skin tones, classic pointed ears, and elongated skulls of varying degrees.
- Immortality Begins at 20: Implied to be the case from a few examples in the lore. Mer children seem to age similarly to human children until they reach adulthood, at which point their aging slows down considerably.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: While longer lived than the the races of Men, Mer pairings are less likely to produce offspring. It is also implied that there may even be a cap in the total amount of children a Mer woman can have, with few ever having more than three.
- Long-Lived: The races of Mer are implied to have longer natural lifespans than the races of Men, who have lifespans along the lines of real life humans. Exactly how much longer is unclear, however, and largely inconsistent. Even without counting the magically enhanced lifespans of certain specific Mer, there are examples living naturally for centuries. Barenziah is approaching 500 in her appearance in Tribunal, and though noticeably aged, she is appears no worse for the wear than a 60 or so year old human. In the backstory, Nerevar is in his 300s by the time of The Battle of Red Mountain and still acting as a Frontline General. Several Altmer and Dunmer characters in Skyrim mention having been present for events like the Red Year (200 years prior to Skyrim) or mention having served in the military for 150 years, but none look any older than middle-aged.
- Order Versus Chaos:
- The Mer races in general strongly favor order over chaos; even the ones who follow the Daedra, such as the Dunmer and Ayleids, still form ordered and regimented societies. The Bosmer, the most chaotic and free-wheeling of the Mer races, are the result of the intermingling of elven and human bloodlines.
- According to Altmeri religious beliefs, the races of Mer are descended from the order-leaning Aedra. These beliefs state that mankind was specifically created by Lorkhan (who was 'begat' by Sithis to disrupt the order ("stasis") of pre-creation) from the weakest souls to be the "chaos" to the "order" of the elves.
- Our Elves Are Better: They sure seem to think so, especially the Altmer. Overall, the races of Mer consider all Mer to certainly be "better" than the races of Men.
- Our Elves Are Different: Starting with having the endonym of Mer. Gets more specific as you get into the individual races, detailed in their entries below.
- Our Gods Are Different: The primary reason the races of Mer split apart was because of religion.
- Pointy Ears: Each race of Mer has the classic standard "Elf" variant.
- Precursors: The Aldmer, the "First Elves" who came to Tamriel from Aldmeris, are the common ancestor of all the races of Mer in Tamriel. The Altmer are their closet living relative.
- Screw You, Elves!: Virtually all races of Mer get this treatment at least some of the time from the races of Men, to the point where much of Tamriel's history can be summed up as "elves and men fighting," or sometimes "elves fighting other elves."
- Superior Species: Each race of Mer certainly believes this about themselves, toward both the other races of Mer and especially the races of Men. The truth is obviously less clear.
- The Tower: During the earliest days following creation, the ancient Aldmer discovered a means to construct their own metaphysical Towers at the "joint-points" of reality. By building their own Tower, each group could create their own narrative, distinct but equal to those around it.
But this was a trick. As Lorkhan knew, this world contained more limitations than not and was therefore hardly a thing of Anu at all.
Mundus was the House of Sithis. As their aspects began to die off, many of the et'Ada vanished completely. Some escaped, like Magnus, and that is why there are no limitations to magic. Others, like Y'ffre, transformed themselves into the Ehlnofey, the Earthbones, so that the whole world might not die. Some had to marry and make children just to last. Each generation was weaker than the last, and soon there were Aldmer.
Darkness caved in. Lorkhan made armies out of the weakest souls and named them Men, and they brought Sithis into every quarter."
The tall, golden-skinned High Elves of the Summerset Isles. They are the primary descendants of the Aldmer, the first race of Mer, and determining when Aldmer history ended and where Altmer history began is nigh impossible. Though non-Altmer scholars are loathe to admit, the truth is that Tamriel owes much of its art, science, philosophy, language and religion to the Altmer, who are also the most magically-gifted of all races. However, they are often viewed as haughty and snobbish, looking down on the other races of Mer as "degenerates" and believing the races of Men to be even worse.
For centuries, they led a mighty empire known as the Aldmeri Dominion. In the late 2nd Era, their empire was crushed by Tiber Septim and the Numidium, forcing them to join an Empire of Men by conquest for the first time in history. During the reign of the Septim Empire, they quietly bided their time and rebuilt their shattered nation. When the Septim Dynasty ended as a result of the Oblivion Crisis, the Dominion rose once again, this time led by the religious extremist (and even more fantastically racist) Thalmor.
- Absolute Xenophobe: Traditionally, the Altmer on Summerset have considered the Isles off-limits to other races and suppressed any forms of outside culture. In ESO, Queen Ayrenn allowing other races to settle in Alinor is met with skepticism by many and outright rebellion by a few. Further, against her orders, many even estabilished abusive "schools" that forced non-Altmer to "conform" to Altmer society (in reality, hostile reeducation camps that taught obedience and subservience to native Altmer). However, after being folded into the Septim Empire, the younger Altmer began a counterculture that advocated acceptance for a time. All signs of this were then squashed in the Fourth Era after the Thalmor assumed power and effectively closed off the Isles to the outside world once again.
- Animal Motifs: Eagles, based off of Auri-El, the golden eagle god off whom Akatosh was based in the Imperial pantheon.
- Arch-Enemy: Several, to the point that their enemies probably look like a Rogues Gallery to the Altmer. They warred with the Sload of Thras at various points in their history, and (as the leaders of the Aldmeri Dominion) have been the main opposition to each of the Cyrodiilic Empires. They also have a long rivalry dating back to their time as the Aldmer in Aldmeris with the Maormer of Pyandonia.
- Benevolent Mage Ruler: Befitting a Witch Species, the majority of their leaders qualify, at least from the perspective of other Altmer. (The races of Men may disagree.)
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Like most of the races of Mer, some of their beliefs are utterly alien to the human mind.
- A major part of their religious belief system (which traces back to the Aldmer and has passed through to some of the other races of Mer) is that the creation of the mortal world was a cruel trick which forced their divine ancestors to experience mortal suffering and death, and seeking to undo creation is a noble cause. The religious extremist Thalmor really play up this belief and are actively attempting to carry it out.
- According to some sources, killing undesirable progeny is also perfectly acceptable, as they believe it releases that being's soul to potentially be reincarnated in a better form. This isn't an act of cruelty or evil to them, they see it as a mercy.
- Break the Haughty: The Altmer were delivered a massive blow to their collective ego when Tiber Septim used The Numidium to destroy their armies and sack their capital city of Alinor in less than one hour of fighting. This was the first time in their thousands of years of history that the Altmer had been conquered by an outside force.note Severely weakened, many of the most extremist Altmer groups (including the Thalmor) were content to wait out Septim's 3rd Empire and then rose again once it fell completely apart.
- Cannon Fodder: They have been known to use trained Goblins in this role in combat. As a Witch Species with Magic Knight soldiers, protracted melee battle is not their forte, so they have need of expendable light infantry to pin down enemy infantry.
- Category Traitor: Believing themselves to be last "pure" remnants of the original Aldmeri race (who in turn believed themselves to be the purest decendents of the Ehlnofey and thus, the gods themselves), the Altmer consider it utter betrayal to marry or interbreed with other races. Marriage and breeding are a carefully-selected process that is meant to ensure that people are paired based on compatible status and bloodlines; marrying or breeding for love is frowned upon but not unheard of between Altmer themselves, but is cultural suicide with any other race.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: With the extinction of the Dwemer, the Altmer are the most advanced and magically-gifted race in Tamriel, with Tamriel owing much of its art, science, philosophy, language, and religion to the Altmer. Their buildings are frequently made of glass or crystal (said to refract light into a rainbow "insect wing" like appearance), with tall towers, vine-like buildings, and swirling walls. Gold tends to be the primary color in the items they craft, including weapons and armor.
- Culture Chop Suey: The Altmer draw heavily from a number of cultures, to note:
- Ancient Greece: Architecturally as well as in the cultural value they place on research. Additionally, their culture (a direct descendent of the Aldmeri precursor culture) has largely been co-opted by the various Cyrodiilic Empires in a way very reminiscent of how the Ancient Romans adopted Ancient Greek culture.
- Their (in)famous Fantastic Caste System draws significantly from India.
- Militarily, their heavy naval focus draws from the English.
- Their primary religious beliefs (passed down from the Aldmer) draw heavily from Gnosticism. Particularly the belief that elvenkind is trapped in a world made by Lorkhan, a demiurge-like figure that tricked the divine ancestors of the elves into giving up their divinity and trapped them in material mortal forms.
- The Psijiic Order draw inspiration from the monks from South Asia, particularly with their detachment from materialism.
- As of the 4th Era, their government draws heavily from Nazi Germany (facistic leaders who came into power riding a wave of populist support in the wake of a continent-spanning crisis with barely concealed racism and religious intolerance) as well as the Spanish Inquisition (roving groups of religious prosecutors given carte blanche to arrest or outright execute those of specific relgious affiliations).
- Cultural Posturing: They take the cake as the haughtiest culture in Tamriel. They are indeed responsible for much of Tamriel's art, science, philosophy, language and religion, and (while there are exceptions) they have no issue letting the other races know just how superior they believe they are. They are the direct descendants of the Aldmer and consider the other races of Mer as a result of "degeneration" over the ages. (And don't even bother trying to bring up the races of Men...) Their religious beliefs state that they are the true descendants of the Aedra, and the 4th Era ascension of the Thalmor into positions of Altmeri leadership has only exacerbated their posturing.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: They were handed one by Tiber Septim's legions with the aid of The Numidium. Their army was crushed and their capital city was sacked in less than an hour, bringing the Altmer under the rule of men by conquest for the first time in history. This only exacerbated their hatred of humanity and, when the opportunity arose following the Oblivion Crisis, they struck back hard under the leadership of the Thalmor.
- Defiled Forever: As part of their doctrine of racial purity, the Altmer consider anyone that breeds with "lesser" races to have forever tainted both themselves and their gene pool for all time. To a lesser extent, this also applies to a nobleperson who sleeps with, marries or sires children with another Altmer unbefitting of their status or lineage. This does not only apply to women.
- The Exile: For most of Altmeri history, those who dissented with traditional Altmer beliefs simply left to resettle elsewhere and practice their unorthodox beliefs. The Dwemer, Chimer, and Ayleids are several prominent examples of this. This has left them, as a culture, rather unaccustomed to dealing with dissidents in their homeland. With most of Tamriel claimed and populated, the number of dissidents in the Summerset Isles swelled in the 3rd Era, leading to a rise in extremism and domestic terrorist groups such as The Beautiful.
- Fantastic Caste System: The Altmer have an extremely rigid caste system, as noted in the Third Pocket Guide:"A hierarchy of classes began to form, which is still largely enforced in Summerset to this day. At the top are the Wise, teachers and priests, followed by the Artists, Princes, Warriors, Landowners, Merchants, and Workers."
- Fantastic Naming Convention: Their names are heavily inspired by Tolkien's "Quenya" Conlang, tending to be very vowel heavy with lots of "-il," "-ar," and the like suffixes. Reading a list of Altmer names will sound very similar to reading The Silmarillion.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: According to Altmer religious beliefs, the creation of Mundus was seen as an act of malevolence as it forced them to experience mortal suffering, loss, and death while removing them from a place of pre-creation divinity. While most are content to toil in this mortal "prison" with "more limitations than not," some extremists, like the Thalmor, actively seek to undo creation to return to that state of pre-creation divinity. However, they believe that not just the existence of mankind, but the existence of the possibility of mankind keeps them trapped in Mundus. (According to their beliefs, mankind were made up from the "weakest souls" by Lorkhan to spread Sithis (chaos) "into every corner," ensuring that there could never be the "stasis" of pre-creation again.) Essentially, the Altmer are oppressed not just by the existence of mankind, but the possibility of mankind's existence.
- Generational Magic Decline: At the heart of their religious beliefs, going hand-in-hand with Our Ancestors Are Superheroes. To them, the creation of the mortal world was a cruel trick which forced their divine ancestors to experience mortal suffering and death. They believe that the other "lesser" races of Mer are the result of "degeneration" over the ages, with each generation being weaker than the last as they are one more removed from their divine Aedric/Ehlnofey ancestors. The Altmer actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal (including, according to some sources, the culling of undesirable progeny), to maintain a perceived level of "purity".
- Goroawase Number: The Altmer have names heavily inspired by Tolkien's "Quenya" Conlang. However, The Pocket Guide to the Empire (a work of dubious in-universe accuracy), suggests that Altmer don't bother to give themselves names. When they greet, they address one another with a long combination of numbers that sounds like a name if you aren't fluent in their language. (The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset further buries this idea with a statement that Altmer have Overly Long Names which, while hard to pronounce, consist of long surnames based on family members.)
- Humanity Is Infectious: Meta. During Morrowind development, it was suggested that Altmer be written as completely incomprehensible to humans. There are theories that the Thalmor are, or want to be, and consider the fact that the Altmer are not as evidence of this trope.
- Kissing Cousins: The Altmer have a very endogamous society, believing that they can trace their ancestry back through the Aldmer, to the Ehlnofey, and through them, even to the et'Ada who created the mortal world. As such, they intermarry and heavily restrict visitors to their homeland to keep their genetics pure, to the point where they even cull children with "undesirable" traits. While their pure bloodline gives them highest nautral magical aptitude of any race, it is theorized that the innate weakness to magicka they suffer is a result of this inbreeding.
- Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: While primarily known for their sorcery and magical prowess, they do employ armed-and-armored soldiers as well. However, these soldiers are openly disrespected by the mages, who are typically upper-class. In their Fantastic Caste System, "warriors" come in around the middle, just above merchants and common workers. In Skyrim, one can overhear a conversation between two Thalmor guards where one of them says that "he hopes that a dragon eats all of their wizards," showing that this dislike goes in the opposite direction as well. (Though part of this may be disgruntlement on account of being stuck in, what is to them, an Ice Hell.)
- Light Is Not Good: Altmer crafted items, including weapons and armor, tend to feature lots of shiny gold while their homeland is full of Shining Cities with heavy use of crystal and glass. That said, they are historically one of the greatest antagonists of the races of Men and some, such as Mannimarco and Mankar Camoran, tend to be outright villainous.
- Magic Knight: While primarily known for their sorcery and magical prowess, they do employ armed-and-armored soldiers as well. Each and every one of these soldiers uses magic as a supplement in combat.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Many non-Thalmor Altmer, especially those outside of the Summerset Isles, are often disgusted by the Thalmor, such the Psijic Order and High Chancellor/Imperial Archmage (later Potentate) Ocato. Unsurprisingly, the Thalmor do not consider them true Altmer.
- Not So Different: The Nords and the Altmer have some shocking similarities despite their rivalries, especially by the time of Skyrim. Both races follow the mainstream Nine Divines but there is a huge minority of their original religion as well, both of them have a very haughty attitude towards any professions they frown upon (soldiers, especially those that don't practice magic in the Altmer's case) as well as any other races (Men for the Altmer although they have looked down on their Bosmer, Dunmer, and Orc cousins from time to time) to the point of showing overt racism, and finally, both believe that they are the rightful heirs to Tamriel.
- Odd Friendship: Played with regarding the Khajiit. For all their "I'm better than you" attitude towards just about every other race on Tamriel, the Altmer have historically had a more benevolent relationship with the Khajiit. Both the ancient Aldmeri Dominion and the modern version have preferred to get the Khajiit to join as vassals by aiding them to develop trust rather than through conquest. Of course, there are self-serving aspects for the Altmer with this arrangement, and in the modern version of the Dominion at least, they may have lied about certain accomplishments in order to appeal to the Khajiit. Additionally, how much of the friendship is benevolence on the part of the Altmer and how much is the Altmer wanting to avoid the wrath of a race widely considered the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass of Tamriel is up for reasonable debate.
- Our Ancestors Are Superheroes: This is part of their religious philosophy. They believe that the other "lesser" races of Mer are the result of "degeneration" over the ages, with each generation being weaker than the last as they are one more removed from their divine Aedric/Ehlnofey ancestors. The Altmer actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal (including, according to some sources, the culling of undesirable progeny), to maintain a perceived level of "purity".
- Our Elves Are Better:
- Something the Thalmor, and indeed Altmer in general, repeatedly emphasise, and there is some truth to it. The Altmer laid the foundation down for all of the races who followed them, they are the only people in Tamriel who come anywhere close to rivalling the ancient Dwemer in terms of advancement, and they do still take the lead in most cultural and scientific pursuits. Not to mention their cities and innovations have been described as more beautiful and efficient than anything man has created [and men have created some truly spectacular works] and you can see where they are coming from. They don't have to be dicks about it, though.
- Interestingly enough, Summerset seems to imply that the Altmer try to invoke this in order to hide their flaws from the rest of Tamriel, a couple of outsiders and indeed some Altmer natives believe that the reason the Summerset Isles has a close door immigration process is because they dont want outsiders to see that they arent as perfect as they like to portray themselves.
- Our Gods Are Different: The primary reasons the other Elvish races split from the Altmer were over worship, with the Altmer worshipping the Aedra. Their religious pantheon would be used as part of the basis for Nine Divines pantheon, though with some names and roles changed. (Most notably, and most disturbingly to the Altmer, the golden-eagle god Auri-El was changed into the draconic Akatosh in the Imperial pantheon.) They are also known to worship other divine beings who do not neatly fit into the categories of Aedra or Daedra, such as Trinimac, Syrabane, Phynaster, and Magnus.
- Proud Scholar Race: They best fit the "mystical" side of the trope, being the most naturally magically gifted race with nearly all of Tamriel's science, philosophy, and religion being based off of theirs. Altmer scholars are frequently among the greatest experts in their fields and benefit greatly from longer lifespans which allow more time to study.
- Pet the Dog:
- Surprisingly, they are the only known race that is accepting of transgender and genderqueer individuals as many who wish to transition can either use mundane means or can use magic to completely change their sex. One actress from the House of Reveries implies that not all races are accepting of transition.
- In Tamriels version of Christmas, most of the races celebrate by doing some sort of entertainment, partying, or performing traditional challenges. What do the Altmer do? They spend their time donating and helping out the less fortunate by performing charities all across Tamriel.
- Really 700 Years Old: While the Altmer are already long-lived, there are said to be "Mage Lords" in the Summerset Isles in excess of 4000 years old. They've almost certainly enhanced their lives with magic but normal Altmer can easily live to be 1000, greater than most other races..
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: "The Beautiful", a terrorist organization comprised of young Altmer, which uses public assassinations and general mayhem as a means to promote modernity and oppose the other branch of Altmer extremism represented by the Thalmor.
- Shining City: Most of their cities within the Summerset Isles qualify, but their capital, Alinor, takes it Up to Eleven. Impossibly tall vine-line buildings with swirling architecture rise high into the sky, where their glass/crystalline structures refract light to create rainbows in a manner reminiscent of "insect wings."
- Slave Race: They are known to train and use goblins as slave labor and cannon fodder in battle.
- The Social Darwinist: They have this as an active belief. They believe that they descend from the gods, and that the diversity of all other Elven races is the result of "degeneration". They actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal.
- Squishy Wizard: They tend to be less physically built compared to the other races on average, but also have the highest natural talents for magic.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: Non-Thalmor Altmer to the Thalmor in the Fourth Era, who are essentially an extreme walking Altmer stereotype.
- Stronger with Age: Inverted, in terms of their religious philosophy. They believe that the other "lesser" races of Mer are the result of "degeneration" over the ages, with each generation being weaker than the last as they are one more removed from their Aedric/Ehlnofey ancestors. The Altmer actively try to breed themselves back into their ideal, to maintain a perceived level of "purity".
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Altmer were always haughty, but by the Fourth Era, the Thalmor's goals involve the subjugation and/or genocide of every other species in Tameriel, actively taking this Up to Eleven.
- The Tower: The Altmer would construct the Crystal Tower ("Crystal-Like-Law") in the Summerset Isles in direct emulation of the Aedric Adamantine Tower. Little is known of the "Stone" of the Crystal Tower, but it is said that it was once a person. During the Oblivion Crisis, the forces of the Daedra managed to destroy the Crystal Tower. At least, in Mundus (the mortal plane). Per the Altmer, the Crystal Tower continues to exist in planes other than Mundus.
- Weak to Magic: Despite their great magical power, Altmer are noted to take more damage from magical attacks precisely because of their connection to arcane powers.
- Witch Species: The most magically inclined of all the races of Mer, and arguably over most magical of any race (although the Bretons might rival). Two of the most famous mages in history, Vanus Galerion and Mannimarco, were Altmer.
- Wizards Live Longer: They are most magically inclined race of Mer and are also the most naturally Long-Lived out of the already long-lived Mer races.
- Villainous Rescue: From their perspective, this was the case in the 3rd Era's War of the Isle. Maormer forces were overrunning the Summerset Isles, forcing the Altmer to request aid from the hated Empire.
- You Are Number 6: The Pocket Guide to The Empire (a work of debatable accuracy) suggests that Altmer in Summerset don't bother to give themselves names. When they greet, they address one another with a long combination of numbers that sounds like a name if you aren't fluent in their language. Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset confirms it to be false as they have Overly Long Names that while hard to pronounce, consist of long surnames based on family members.
The Wild Elves of Cyrodiil (also known as the "Heartland High Elves"), who were close relatives of the Altmer. They broke away from the Aedra-worshiping leadership of the Summerset Isles to found their own kingdom in which they could worship other entities, primarily the Daedra. However, some Ayleids still continued to worship the Aedra along the Daedra, and this eventually provoked a schism in their society, where the Daedra worshipers and the Aedra worshipers got into an intense civil war. The Daedra side eventually emerged victoriously from the conflict, while the scattered surviving members of the Aedra side fled into exile to the Black Marsh, establishing themselves as the Barsaebic tribe.
With this purge, Ayleid society now only permitted the worship of the Daedra, leading their mighty nation down dark paths, which included the enslavement and vile torture of the Nedes, precursors to most of the later races of Men. When these slaves rose up in the Alessian Revolt in the 1st Era, the Ayleid kingdom was devastated. A few Ayleid lords who sided with the revolting slaves were permitted to keep their lands, but about a century later, even they were decimated when a rabidly anti-Elven religious doctrine (the Alessian Order) came to power within the Alessian Empire.
This started the event that would be known as the Ayleid Diaspora, in which the surviving Heartland Elves fled the Alessian Empire, seeking to find new homes elsewhere in Tamriel — with decidedly mixed results. Some journeyed to Skyrim, only to encounter more hostility and hatred at the hands of the local Nords, who eradicated them all under the leadership of the infamous warlord Vrage the Butcher. Others fled to Black Marsh, but were refused admission by the now firmly established Barsaebics tribe, who had not forgotten their old brothers and sisters' betrayal and persecution, so instead they tried heading for Elsweyr, but many died on the journey and they were ultimately lost to history, presumed to all have perished in the desert. The luckier ones went to Hammerfell and High Rock, where they joined with (and were eventually fully absorbed into) the Direnni Hegemony. The most successful survivors went to Valenwood, where the Bosmer welcomed them with open arms and allowed them to settle, as long as they agreed to uphold parts of the Green Pact and promised not to hurt the forest. These "Forest Ayleids" ended up being the ones who managed to hold onto their old culture the longest, but they gradually blended with the native Bosmer population over time, and eventually were absorbed completely.
The Ayleids are now considered extinct as a unique race, although unconfirmed sightings in the remote wilderness areas of Tamriel continued to occur into the 3rd Era. The remains of their once mighty civilsation still dots the landscape of Cyrodiil and some of the surrounding areas, as rather impressive (and dangerous) ruins.
Like the Altmer, they had tall but lean frames with elongated skulls and angular facial features. They had bright, azure blue eyes and a grayish skin tone darker than that of the Altmer, but still much lighter than that of the Dunmer.
- Abusive Precursors: They kept humans as slaves, and some of their more horrific mistreatment of their slaves included forcing them all to work naked, force-feeding them hallucinogenic drugs and watching their reactions, creating sculptures out of their bones and gardens out of their entrails, and setting human children on fire and setting hungry animals on them. The humans eventually rose up against their masters, overthrew them, ruled over Cyrodiil (with a few Ayleid lords that had joined the human rebellion being left in place) and then a while later picked up crazy religion and ruthlessly hunted down all vestiges of the Ayleid civilisation, exterminating the ones who didn't flee Cyrodiil.
- Animal Motifs: Birds. Many of their writings (and writings about them) are heavy with bird metaphors. They were said to have adorned themselves with feathers. Their armor was designed with feather patterns and their helmets with "beaks." A great example is the armor of Laloriaran Dynar◊ in Online.
- Athens and Sparta: There are lorebooks in Online which talk about the Ayleid city states of Delodiil and Abagarlas. Delodiil was progressive and populated by artists and scholors, and its people worshipped Meridia. Abagarlas was a military state whose people worshipped Molag Bal. Abgarlas's King was so jealous of Delodiil that he planned on sacking it and sacrificing every one of its citizens to Molag Bal, but by the time he and his army arrived, Delodiil had vanished, and Abagarlas had been sacked. The Coldharbour arc reveals that Delodiil was absorbed into Coldharbour, Molag Bal's realm, and becomes the main trade hub during the Coldharbour quests. Abagarlas is explorable as a dungeon
- Conlang: They have their own, known as "Ayleidoon."
- Creepy Blue Eyes: The Ayleids all had very light-blue eyes, to a degree where they almost glowed, which went very well with the general birds-of-prey motif their culture had. Given their taste for Daedra-worship, there might even have been an element of Occult Blue Eyes to it.
- The Empire: They are credited with forming the first empire in Tamriel, dominating all of Cyrodiil ("Cyrod" as they called it) and founded what would later become the Imperial City.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
- The Ayleids possessed elements of ancient Greek cultures, most notably Athens (architecture, dress, and art) and Sparta (treatment of slaves). Warfare in Cyrodiil at the time was also akin to that of Greece, to the point that soldiers were referred to as "hoplites."
- In their role as the ancient oppressors of the Nedes, who would eventually overthrow them and then go on to form The Empire, they're evocative of the Etruscan kings who ruled Rome prior to the establishment of the Roman Republic.
- Folk Hero: The Last King of the Ayleids, Laloriaran Dynar, who died at the Battle of Glenumbra Moors alongside the Direnni of High Rock is considered one by many modern Mer who long for the time when Tamriel was dominated by the races of Mer.
- Ghost Memory: Like their Welkynd and Varla stones, the Ayleids possessed crystals which could release memories directly to the user. Overuse of these crystals was said to cause a "problem of capacity" for mortal minds.
- Human Sacrifice: They were known to practice it, sacrificing their human slaves to appease their various deities.
- Ignored Expert: The "moth-eyed" (Moth Priests), who study the Elder Scrolls, warned them that their hubris would "bear bitter fruit." The Ayleids ignored this, and their hubris would indeed lead to their downfall.
- Kick the Dog: Their actions toward their Nedic slaves included but were not limited to: forcing all slaves to be naked, creating sculptures out of their bones, creating gardens out of their entrails, setting their children on fire and then siccing wild animals on them (which they refer to as "Tiger Sport"), and skinning runaways alive then making their skin into blankets for their children and babies.
- Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: In their hubris, they believed that they would last forever. They tortured their human slaves in unimaginably cruel ways, leading to those slaves rising up and destroying the entire Ayleid culture. Those who weren't killed were forced to intermingle with the other races of Mer, effectively leading to their extinction as a unique race.
- Lost Technology:
- The Ayleids created many useful magical items during the golden years of their Empire, none of which have been replicated by the time of the games, forcing players to search Ayleid ruins in order to get their hands on them. Their magic items included Welkynd Stones and Wells which restore lost magicka, as well as Varla stones which can restore enchantments to weapons. The catch? The stones disappear after being used, and the wells need time to recharge. So powerful were these items, particularly those of the Varla stones (or "varliance"), that Umaril the Unfeathered "wrought" weapons from which were able to make Pelinal Whitestrake bleed.
- According to some theories, the Ayleids themselves didn't "create" these items, but preserved them from the "Dawn Era magicks of the Ehlnofey", meaning they were a form of lost technology even to the Ayleids.
- Magitek: Much of their technology fits, with their technologically advanced (relative the extant races of Tamriel) cities powered by Magicka-recharging Welkynd stones and Enchantment-recharging Varla stones.
- Malevolent Architecture: Their ruins (formerly Ayleid cities) are notorious for their death traps, many of which are implausible and seem more dangerous to the denizens of the city than any invaders. One theory states that the Ayelids didn't always have such traps in their cities, and started constructing them as defensive measures during the Alessian Revolt, potentially justifying it. They make full use of Pressure Plates and Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
- There were a number of Ayleids who refused to worship the Daedra, instead continuing to worship the Aedra. These two groups eventually went to war, but the Aedra-worshiping Ayleids were defeated and the survivors forced to flee Cyrodiil. The most famous of these groups were the Barsaebic Ayleids, who settled in Black Marsh.
- Likewise, many Ayleids were disgusted by the atrocities committed against the Nedic slaves. A number of these Ayleids sided with the slaves during the revolt, and were allowed to keep their lands as vassals of the new Cyrodiilic Empire as a result.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Unlike the other races of Mer whose racial names are (word)-mer, the Ayleids are the Odd Name Out and have a difficult to discern name. The most commonly accepted pronunciation is "ay-LEE-id", but other pronunciations like "i-LEED" and similar exist,
- Numerological Motif: They were said to be "obsessed" with the number 8, considering it divine.
- Odd Name Out: The only elven race, whose elven name does not end with "mer".
- Our Elves Are Different: They're Jerkasses who enslaved and tormented humans.
- Our Gods Are Different:
- Their split with the Altmer was to get around the Aedra-worshiping Altmer's laws against Daedra worship. Many Ayleids actually worshipped both the Aedra and Daedra because both granted them powerful magic. This ended up contributing to their downfall since, unlike the Chimer, the Ayleids worship included some of the traditionally "evil" Daedric Princes. This led to some of the darker practices elsewhere on this list, which led to a loss of divine favor with the Aedra who supported the slave uprising against the Ayleids.
- While most (in)famous for their Daedra worship, the Ayleids also worshiped other beings who seem to have been forgotten in the eons since. One such example, from the Adabal-a, is a "Insect God" whose name has been lost to whom an Ayleid king sacrificed all of his human slaves.
- The Purge:
- A schism between the pure-Daedra worshipers, and those who also worshiped Aedra, led to a civil war, which the latter lost. After this, the survivors of the losing side found themselves being violently stomped out by the victors, and had to flee to the Black Marsh.
- Many years later, the surviving Ayleids in Cyrodiil fell victim to a purge too, when their human allies turned on them.
- Racial Remnant: Possibly. It is rumored that Ayleids still live in the untamed wilds across Tamriel, but the odd unconfirmed sighting is the only evidence for it. By the Fourth Era, centuries have gone by without a reliable sighting.
- Screw You, Elves!: A combination of major political infighting, loss of divine favor, a slave revolt, predations of their northern neighbors in collusion with the revolting slaves, and Pelinal Whitestrake spelled the end of the Ayleids.
- Star Power: They believed that starlight was the most "sublime" form of magic, and venerated anything which fell from the heavens, particularly meteorite iron, which they would craft into their "Ayleid Wells" which channeled and restored magicka.
- Token Heroic Orc: Rebel Ayleid lords were amongst Alessia's most important supporters and were allowed to keep their lands as vassals of her empire. Or, at least until the monkey prophet Marukh took over and made the First Empire become rabidly anti-elven.
- Thunderbolt Iron: Their Ayleid Wells, which (though an unknown means) channel magicka from the stars and can restore it to mages, were said to be crafted from meteorite iron.
- The Tower: Constructed the White-Gold Tower on an island in the heart of Cyrodiili, using the "Chim-el-Adabal" (said to have been created from the crystallized blood of Lorkhan, collected as it traveled across Tamriel to its resting place in Morrowind) as their "Stone." Following the Alessian Revolt, the tower would be taken by the Nedes.
- Unperson: The Alessian Order, under the leadership of the monkey prophet Maruhk, attempted to completely erase all trace of the Ayleids from history. While they obviously weren't completely successful, they did enough damage that the Ayleids are left shrouded in the mists of history while their magics and technologies are lost.
- Utility Magic: They are credited with developing the Alteration school of magic, which includes a number of "utility" spells including levitation, water walking, night eye, light spells, and offensive paralysis.
- War Refugees: Many Ayleid clans fled the Alessian Revolt in Cyrodiil, but few found safe havens. Only two groups are known to have survived. The first were those who fled to the Direnni Altmer in High Rock, where they were welcomed and formed the "last" kingdom of the Ayleids ruled by Laloriaran Dynar, which survived for a few more centuries. The second were those clans who fled into Valenwood, where they were welcomed by the Bosmer. The Valenwood Ayleids would end up being fully absorbed by Bosmeri culture, leading to their extinction as a unique race.
- Written by the Winners: They are the "losers" in this case to Alessia and the Imperial's "winners." While there is plenty of evidence that the Ayleids committed atrocities against their human slaves, there has almost certainly been some exaggeration of the centuries since. Even though several rebel Ayleid lords supported Alessia and were permitted to keep their lands and culture after the war, even they would be demonized once the monkey prophet Maruhk came to power. In addition to the persecution of any elves within the empire, he also destroyed any records and cultural artifacts of the Ayleids that could be found. Eventually, only the (almost certainly heavily biased) Imperial records of the Alessian Revolt remained.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Unlike other races who worship only the Aedra, or only the Daedra, the Ayleids worshiped both since both Aedra and Daedra gave them powerful magic.
But Y'ffre took the Ooze and ordered it. First, she told of the Green, the forest and all the plant life in it. She gave the Green the
power to shape itself as it willed, for it was her first tale.
The Elves were Y'ffre's second tale. As Y'ffre spun the story, the Elves took the form they have today. Y'ffre gave them the power
to tell stories, but warned them against trying to shape themselves or the Green. Shifting and the destruction of the forest were
The Wood Elves of Valenwood, also known as the "Boiche" or "Tree-Sap People". Their ancestors rejected the formal traditions of Aldmeri culture, splitting off to live simple lives more in tune with nature. They struck an agreement with Y'ffre, the Forest God of Valenwood and the first et'Ada to transform into the Ehlnofey, known as the Green Pact; in exchange for Y'ffre's patronage, they have sworn never to harm any plantlife in Valenwood (though they can import timber from other regions of Tamriel when necessary), and must live on an almost exclusively carnivorous diet. They are the shortest race in Tamriel and possess darker reddish/brown skin than their Altmeri cousins. They are nimble and quick as a race, making for excellent scouts, thieves, and hunters. The Bosmer are considered the finest archers in all Tamriel, with it even being said that they were inventors of the bow.
However, their forswearing of most the formalities of civilized life to be more in harmony with nature have lead many an unsympathetically-inclined citizen of Tamriel to view them as a bunch of barbarians, most prominently many among the Altmer. As a result, they have been assimilated or subjugated by every incarnation of the Aldmeri Dominion, in which they are treated as second-class citizens (at best) to the Altmer. They are led by the "Silvenar," who is a literal representation of the Bosmer people. (Changing in both body and mind to match the current state of the Bosmeri people.)
- Alien Lunch: Various forms of insect make up a portion of their diet due to the restrictions of the Green Pact. Additionally, they are known to smoke certain insects in their bone pipes, as smoking plant matter within Valenwood would violate the Pact.
- Arch-Enemy: They have a long and violent history with the Khajiit, with whom they share a border. Despite this, the two races have often fought alongside each other, especially during the days of the first Aldmeri Dominion.
- Archer Archetype: The Bosmer are hailed as the best archers in Tamriel. By the age of 14, all Bosmer children are expected to be proficient enough with a bow to join hunting parties. Their very best archers are known as "Jaqspurs," able to snatch an arrow, draw their bow, and fire in one continuous motion. Both the Aldmeri Dominion and the Septim Empire have employed the Bosmer as specialist archer troops.
- The Beastmaster: Can calm hostile animals using their Beast Tongue ability.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Like many of the races of Mer, they have some cultural practices and beliefs which are quite alien.
- Preservation and protection of Valenwood comes above all else. The Green Pact dictates that they must consume the flesh of fallen invaders as it is not allowed to rot within Valenwood.
- The "Mourning Wars" are a Bosmeri tradition which has been practiced since their pre-history. When a member of one tribe is slain by a another tribe, he or she is replaced by a hostage-taking raid on the offending tribe. The hostage is tortured "to test their worthiness," and if they pass, they are welcomed into the new tribe. When the slain tribe member is someone very important, several hostages may be taken to make up for the victim. Traditionally, the hostage(s) is given the possessions, rank, and rights of the slain, but this is said to be rarely practiced in modern times.
- The Rite of Theft is a Bosmer tradition which states that if a person steals from another, then returns the item, the item's rightful owner must pay the thief commiserate with the item's worth. This tradition is understandably frowned upon by non-Bosmer, and has even been used against the Bosmer by outsiders.
- Crafted From Animals: Traditional Bosmer weaponry and clothing tends to be made at least in part from animals due to the Green Pact preventing them from harvesting plants within Valenwood.
- Enslaved Elves: Downplayed in that it isn't full blown slavery, but the Bosmer are treated as second-class citizens to the Altmer under the Aldmeri Dominion. Things became even worse when the extremist Thalmor rose to power, as they even treat other Altmer as beneath them if those Altmer do not subscribe to the beliefs of the Thalmor.
- In most places outside Valenwood, true forest-dwelling Bosmer are rare, and the ones that do are little better than glorified poachers and bandits. Most Bosmer met in the games live in cities, work regular jobs and lead normal lives.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: Their names are heavily inspired by Tolkien's "Sindarin" Conlang. They use a lot of "th" sounds, plus plenty of "d's, f's and g's" surrounded by soft vowels. The end result are a lot of names like Glarthir, Fargoth, and Enthir.
- Forest Ranger: Between the Green Pact and their propensity toward marksmanship, this is basically the cultural hat of the Bosmer,
- Gargle Blaster: Since the Green Pact limits their ability to produce alcohol from fruit or grain, they've invented alternatives. Jagga is fermented pig's milk, similar to real life Mongolian Airag (replacing horses with pigs). There is also Rotmeth, created from fermented meat rubbed with the organs of Thunderbugs, which takes years to brew. It is an essential drink to have at all Bosmer weddings.
- Hidden Elf Village: Bosmer villages are typically built into tall, sometimes migratory trees and are usually only connected by narrow footpaths. This makes them incredibly difficult to find for non-Bosmer.
- Horned Humanoid: Online and Legends depicts some Bosmer as having deer-like antlers.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Bosmer are required by the Green Pact to consume fallen enemies, so that their bodies are not allowed to rot within Valenwood. Bosmer warriors are known to starve themselves for days before battle so that they can eat the remains of whatever enemies they kill (though, as with many other Green Pact rules, this is relaxed for Bosmer outside of Valenwood). Additionally, this practice is said to have faded during the 2nd and 3rd Eras, and is now rarely practiced outside of a few remote villages.
- Loophole Abuse: Bosmer use a range of options for getting around the restrictions of the Green Pact. For example, the Green Pact says that one cannot harm living plants, and cannot eat food made from plants. However, some Bosmer eat raw fruit that has fallen from trees and they are able to eat mushrooms, which do not count as plants. It's also acceptable to eat insects, honey, and dairy products. Additionally, while they may not harm the plant-life of Valenwood, certain outsiders are allowed to, and the Bosmer have been known to purchase lumber from outsiders who cut the trees. They are also known to import wood from other regions into Valenwood when necessary. This is also on top of the fact that different Bosmer tribes have different degrees of adherence to the Pact, and some follow the restrictions to fanatical exactness while others interpret them much more loosely as guidelines.
- The Lost Woods: Their sacred homeland of Valenwood. Massive dense forests stretch as far as the eye can see and most Bosmeri settlements are connected only by narrow footpaths. Some of the trees there are even migratory, traveling to different regions of Valenwood depending on the season.
- Noble Savage: They're seen as an extremely barbaric form of Mer, particularly in comparison to their Altmer cousins/neighbors. However, they are seen as generally good and well-meaning people.
- Our Elves Are Different: Bosmer are cannibals who live in cities composed of walking trees and, within Valenwood, are not allowed to consume plant matter.
- Really Gets Around: Out of all the races of Mer, the Bosmer are known as the most amorous. As a result, they're also the most numerous race of Mer on Tamriel.
- Rock Beats Laser: Due to the Green Pact, forges are extremely uncommon in Valenwood. As a result, metal weapons and armor have never gained popularity amongst the Bosmer. Their weaponry tends to be made of natural ingredients, such as bone for clubs and obsidian blades. They are known to make composite horn bows which are said to be some of the best in Tamriel. For armor, they either forgo it completely or use light natural materials such as leather and hide.
- Scary Teeth: Some Bosmer have been known to sharpen their teeth into points.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: All Bosmer possess the innate ability to transform into nightmarish beasts as a final desperate act of defense against invaders, known as "the Wild Hunt." However, there is no known way to reverse this transformation, leaving them permanently stuck as these monsters.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Until Skyrim, Bosmer women were a full head taller than Bosmer men. Skyrim reduced the discrepancy significantly (women are still taller, but only slightly,) Downplaying the trope.
- The Tower: They grew a Tower rather than construct one, known as the Green-Sap, grown from the Perchance Acorn (their Stone). According to the Bosmer, every story of the Green-Sap is true, with none "truer" than any other. The Green-Sap had the ability to "walk" throughout their forest homeland of Valenwood. However, the mage Anumaril used a "fangled" magic staff created in emulation of each Tower to turn the Perchance Acorn into a Definite Acorn, giving the Green-Sap a "true ending" and freezing it in place, never to "walk" again. So, while the ending to the story of Green-Sap is determined, that ending still remains a mystery. The Green-Sap still stands in Valenwood's Elden Grove.
- Too Important to Walk: The members of the Spinners, a Bosmer spiritual order dedicated to Y'ffre, only travel when carried from place to place by others, never moving under their own power.
- True-Breeding Hybrid: The Monomyth suggests that early in their history the Aldmer who became the Bosmer "soiled Time's line" by "taking Mannish wives", making them a more-Elven version of the Bretons' Uneven Hybridization. It is worth noting that out of all the races of Mer, the Bosmer are the ones who look closest to humans and have the most human-like skin tones.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Bosmer were originally designed◊ so that all of the women would be beautiful while all the men would be gonk. While the women were still quite attractive, the men were made less ugly in Oblivion and this has been almost completely forgotten by the time of Skyrim.
- Uneven Hybrid: It is said that the Bosmer came to be when the Aldmer who settled in Valenwood began taking "Mannish wives." In the exact opposite of the Bretons, the Bosmer are still almost entirely Mer.
- War Refugees: Over the millennia, they've been welcoming to all those who seek refuge within Valenwood so long as they agree to follow certain aspects of the Green Pact and do not harm the forest itself. In particular, they were known to take in huge numbers of Ayleids fleeing Cyrodiil during the Alessian Revolt who would eventually be fully absorbed by Bosmeri culture.
- The Wild Hunt: In Tamriel, the phrase 'Wild Hunt' refers to a ritual in which a number of Bosmer transform themselves into nightmarish beasts, and then rampage through Valenwood destroying their enemies. Because there is no known way to reverse the transformation, the ritual is considered a taboo subject by Bosmer and is sanctioned for use only in dire circumstances.
- Worthy Opponent: Their views on the trickster god Lorkhan. Like most Mer races, they do acknowledge that Lorkhan screwed over them for losing their divinity but unlike most of elvenkind, has a more forgive and forget mentality for his trickery and cunning on how it happen. Lorkhan cults in Valenwood, while not common, arent unheard of either.
and captured the ash of Red Mountain, which they knew was the Blight of the Dwemer and that would serve only to infect the whole of the middle world, and ate it. ALTADOON DUNMERI!"
The Dark Elves of Morrowind. They were originally the Chimer, close relatives of the Altmer with pale gold skin, but were led by the prophet Veloth to become the Velothi people and worship their ancestors and Daedra rather than the Divines. They were later unified under Nerevar to create the nation of Resdaynia and become known as the Resdayn people.
Early in the First Era, their alliance with the Dwemer (originally formed to defeat the invading Nords) fell apart when the Chimer learned that the Dwemer had found the Heart of Lorkhan (the dead creator god) and were planning to tap into it. Seeing this as blasphemy toward their gods (the Daedra), the Chimer attacked the Dwemer stronghold at Red Mountain. Exactly what happened next is recounted differently by all those involved, but the Dwemer vanished, three of Nerevar's closest allies (as well as a former ally turned enemy) became demi-gods, Nerevar died, and the Chimer became ash-skinned with glowing red eyes, and Azura told them that it was their fault (or Vivec's fault). Thusly, they became the Dunmer people.
Most rallied around the new demi-gods, the Tribunal (Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil). Several tribes clung to the old ways in the ashy barrens of Vvardenfell and became known as the Ashlanders. For 4000 years, this was the way of life for the Dunmer. When Tiber Septim came to conquer Morrowind, Vivec allowed Morrowind to become a Voluntary Vassal and traded to the Emperor the (Dwemer-crafted, Dunmer-seized) Numidium in exchange for special privileges (such as continuing to allow slavery). But this wouldn't last...
At the beginning of the 4th Era, during the Oblivion Crisis, Vivec mysteriously disappeared. And five years later the Ministry of Truth came crashing down and then Red Mountain erupted, causing a disastrous cataclysm, that would be known as "The Red Year", which laid waste to Vvardenfell and some of the surrounding areas. Villages and cities were set on fire or drowned in choking ash, and while many Dunmer perished in the chaos, many more were forced to flee. Then, seizing the Dunmer's moment of weakness, several Argonian tribes then launched an invasion from the south (partly as an act of revenge for the centuries of slavery the Dunmer had subjected their people to, but also partly spurred on by Thalmor agents), pillaging and plundering through large swaths of Morrowind. Eventually the Dunmer were, amidst the chaos and against all odds, able to rally an army of their own and beat them back — although not entirely, as the Argonians still occupy a chunk of Southern Morrowind, and do not show any signs of giving it up anytime soon. In the aftermath, Morrowind turned its back the Empire, feeling that it had failed them in their time of need.
Now, the Dunmer people are a scattered people; while some are trying to rebuild Morrowind of old, many others are settling in Solstheim and Skyrim.
The Dunmer possess both strong physiques and keen intellects, which make them highly adaptable and equally skilled as warriors or sorcerers, but most of them tend to be grim, aloof, suspicious and disdainful of other races, believing themselves superior to them.
- Alien Lunch: Considering how unusual the flora and fauna is in Morrowind, it should come as no surprise that the Dunmer eat unusual foods. A staple "crop" of Dunmer society are the eggs of the kwama, a social subterranean insect whose eggs are "mined" regularly. The kwama eggs have a sour taste, pungent odor, and gummy texture, which makes them initially unpleasant to eat without proper preparation. The Dunmer also harvest the meat of scribs, which are late larval forms of kwama, and make jerky and jelly out of their meat, which also has a sour taste and unpleasant texture without proper preparation. Other dietary staples include numerous forms of fungus (some of which glow), odorous yams which grow in volcanic ash, and numerous other types of Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables.
- Animal Motifs: Insects and arachnids. Some of the most iconic Dunmeri armors are made from the chitin of local (gigantic) Morrowind and Solsthiem insect populations, and Mephala, Prince of Spiders (among many other things, most of which is hidden from mortals) is one of the chief dieties of the Dunmer.
- Anti-Magic: They have an innate resistance to fire and fire-based magic.
- Badass Normal: As the Chimer. Despite lacking the magical might of the Altmer, the technological skill of the Dwemer, and pure brute force of the Nords, they managed to hold their own in conflicts against each thanks to their Jack-of-All-Stats balance. They stopped qualifying after the Battle of Red Mountain, when they became the Dunmer and gained three Physical Gods who helped to defend Morrowind from outside threats for nearly 4000 years.
- Ban on Magic: They have a strong cultural dislike for necromancy, and considered it punishable by death under the Tribunal Temple. This is rooted in their religious beliefs which include significant ancestor worship.
- Bizarrchitecture: Their traditional dwellings range from hollowed-out giant crab shells to magically grown mushroom towers. The ancient Daedric ruins built by the ancient Chimer are also designed in some truly impossible ways. One of their holy sites was the Ministry of Truth, a hollowed out moon which they turned into The Alcatraz for heretics and blasphemers.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Like many of the other races of Mer, many aspects of Dunmer culture can appear barbaric or plain alien to an outside observer. While downplayed compared to the utterly alien Dwemer and some of the more extreme Altmer beliefs, the Dunmer have no qualms about, for instance, siccing legal assassins on their opponents and have allowed the theocratic elements of their unique religion to permeate through the everyday life of their people. They consider it a sacred act to raise the bodies and spirits of their ancestors for protection (an act they consider blasphemous necromancy otherwise). Additionally, they contributed the bones and souls of their deceased to power the Ghostfence (which contained the Blight around Red Mountain) once the Tribunal were no longer powerful enough to power it on their own.
- Break the Haughty: For thousands of years, they were a highly xenophobic, arrogant, slave-holding race. Following the events of Morrowind, their culture went into a sharp decline and was dealt a devastating blow between Oblivion and Skyrim, when the Ministry of Truth crashed down causing Red Mountain to errupt which destroyed most of Vvardenfell and rendered much of Morrowind uninhabitable due to choking ash. Then, one of their former slave races (the Argonians) invaded and captured much of what was left of habitable Morrowind. The Dunmer have paid for their hubris and then some, now scattered with many of them settling on the frozen, barren island of Solstheim and in Skyrim, where they are treated as second-class citizens (at best) by the native Nords. Luckily, they seem to have learned a little well-deserved humility in the process. As one Dunmer puts it to a Dunmer Dragonborn in Skyrim: "We're all Ashlanders now."
- The Chosen People: The Dunmer primarily worship three patron Daedric Princes — Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. Known as the "Good Daedra" to the Dunmer, these deities led them away from their decadent Altmeri cousins in the Summerset Isles to their promised land of Morrowind (in a manner very similar to the Biblical Exodus). There, they taught the Dunmer to survive in its harsh climate surrounded by many powerful, antagonistic neighbors (Nords, Dwemer, etc.) They also taught the Dunmer how to avoid succumbing to the four "Bad Daedra" — Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Sheogorath, and Malacath. Though the Dunmeri Tribunal caused the Dunmer to go away from the worship of the Good Daedra for a few thousand years, Azura (through the events of Morrowind) brought them back within her sway.
- Church Militant: At the height of Tribunal worship, the Tribunal Temple was a powerful military force. Special mention to the Buoyant Armigers, elite special forces hand-picked by Vivec himself, often decked out in high quality glass armor, who primarily operated inside the Ghostfence.
- Church Police: The Ordinators are this for the Tribunal Temple. They serve as inquisitors, guards for Temple holdings and holy sites, and hunt down unholy threats like Daedra worshippers, vampires, necromancers, and people who wear their holy armor. Because of this, they also make for a shining example of Knights Templar. There are also the Buoyant Armigers, elite special forces hand-picked by Tribunal deity Vivec himself, often decked out in high quality Glass armor, who primarily operate inside the Ghostfence. There's also the High Ordinators, who are under the rule of Almalexia, another Tribunal deity, and then the elites of those, known as the Hands of Almalexia: Six warriors with equipment enchanted by the goddess herself. Each of whom are said to be some of the most powerful warriors in Tamriel.
- The Clan: The Great Houses. Originally family based, they are now a combination of blood relatives and adopted members. They've expanded over time to allow outsiders to join freely, though few ever rise to the highest ranks. Those with ties to the original families are considered the equivalent of Dunmer nobility, and are fast-tracked for leadership positions.
- Colony Drop: Sheogorath attempted this by hurling the rogue moon Baar Dau at Vivec City. Vivec, the Tribunal deity, froze it in place above the city. It would later be hollowed out for use by the Tribunal Temple as the Ministry of Truth. Vivec tells his followers that it is held in place by his people's love for him, and that should they stop loving him, it would fall. As a result of the Nerevarine's actions, Vivec disappears following the events of the game. The stop-gap measure implemented by the Temple to keep it in orbit is destroyed, so the moon resumes its fall as though it had never stopped. Vivec (the city) is destroyed, Red Mountain erupts, the mainland of Morrowind is devastated by tsunamis, and, even some 200 years later, the crater/bay that lies where Vivec used to be, is now known as Scathing Bay and still has its waters boiling.
- Corrupt Church: What the Tribunal Temple had become around the time of Morrowind. 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. Now, most of its members are stuck-up, elitist jerkasses, especially the high ranking officials, and the Ordinators have become condescending fanatical bigots who consider even speaking of the Nerevarine or wearing their armor to be capitol offenses. It seems to have gotten better by the time of Skyrim the dissidents who said 'aren't you guys taking things too far?' to the aforementioned excesses were validated by the events of Morrowind, and then ended up coming up on top the chaos of Vivec's disappearance and the Red Year, forming the much less corrupt "New Temple."
- Cultural Posturing: They were one of the haughtiest cultures in all of Tamriel. They were an extremely xenophobic race who hated outlanders within their homeland of Morrowind, but had no issue with raiding other provinces (particularly Black Marsh and Elsweyr) for slaves. The corrupt Tribunal Temple did nothing but reinforce the cultural superiority of the Dunmer while hypocrisy was rampant. The events of Morrowind, Tribunal, the Oblivion Crisis, the Red Year, and finally the Argonian invasion seem to have humbled them by the time of Skyrim, however.
- Culture Chop Suey: Where to start...
- Biblical Israelites/Hebrews/Jews: Led to Morrowind via mass exodus by the prophet Veloth, who shares aspects of Abraham and Moses. Practice a comparitively unusual religion for the setting (Tribunal/Ancestor worship vs. the worship of the Divines,) similar to the Israelite's monotheism vs. the polytheism popular in the region at the time. Struggling against a powerful foreign empire occupying their homeland (Cyrodiilic Empire, Roman Empire.) Had a long rivalry with the Dwemer, who have some appropriately Babylonian influences.
- Ancient Mesopotamia: Particularly the ancient Chimer. The names of many people and places sound like they're straight out of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Mongolia: The Ashlanders combine this with Mesopotamia mentioned above. Nomadic and "barbaric" (at least from the point of view of the Great House Dunmer.)
- Japan/China: Building aesthetics, especially House Hlaalu and Indoril styles.
- Culture Clash: Strikingly in Morrowind. They are a very alien people and culture, which does not make progressing as an outlander easy.
- Dark Is Not Evil: They may have a (not undeserved) cultural reputation for being dour and suspicious, and their dark skin and red eyes are indicative of a curse, but the Dunmer are no more inclined to outright villainy than any of Tamriel's other races.
- Devil, but No God: The Dunmer have an interesting take on this. In general, they acknowledge that the Daedric Princes that they do revere — Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala — are actually ruthless, vicious and brutal entities; even Azura, the most benevolent of those Princes, still cursed the whole species for the actions of the Tribunal. At the same time, the Dunmer view everyone else, Aedra and Daedra alike, as either lying tricksters, ineffectually weak, or uselessly malicious. (By comparison, Boethiah and Mephala are usefully malicious, as they taught the Dunmer how to survive in a harsh environment through their maliciousness.) It's not really surprising that the only gods they truly revered as benevolent were ALMSIVI.
- End of an Age: The Tribunal exerted great influence over the affairs of the Dunmer for some 4000 years. That all comes to an end following the events of Morrowind, Tribunal, the Oblivion Crisis, the Red Year, and the Argonian invasion. It leaves the Dunmer way of life shattered with their people cast from their ancestral homeland and searching for their place in the world, both literally and figuratively.
- Evil Sorcerer: House Telvanni. You don't have to be evil to join, but they tend to thrive within the house as it is a Magocracy where Might Makes Right and Klingon Promotion are official policies.
- Fantastic Honorifics: A slight variation on the gender-neutral "ser" version: The Dunmer use "sera", "muthsera" and "serjo", in increasing order of politeness. They also use (far less prominently) the honorifics of "Sedura" (which appears to be associated with wealth) and "Kena" (which appears to be associated with scholars or wizards). They can stack, too one play refers to a character as "Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr" (Hordalf Xyr being the character's name, and Telvanni being his House) by another character pretending to be his servant.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: They typically have a first name and a last name with a characteristic "Dunmerish" sound (for example, Falanu Hlaalu, Nels Llendo, Hlireni Indavel). The Dunmer nobility also uses the name of their Houses as prefix to their names (for example, Redoran Hlaren Ramoran). The Telvanni Masters use one name only (Mistress Dratha, Master Neloth). The Ashlanders (and many ancient Chimeri names) draw heavily from ancient Mesopotamia, leading to them sounding like they're straight out of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Fantastic Racism: Are famously xenophopic, especially against the beast races. By Skyrim, they've had the tables turned on them, but have at least learned a little humility from the experience.
- Fantastic Slurs: They are known to use three: s'wit, fetcher, and n'wah. The first two are used similarly to "shit/idiot" and the "f" word while also being an offensive term for a slave, respectively. The last is a highly offensive word for "outlander" with similar negative connotations as the Japanese "gaijin" and/or the real life "N" word.
- Founder of the Kingdom: Two of them. Veloth is the founder of the Chimer, who led them from Summerset to Morrowind and laid the foundation for their society and culture. Lord Indoril Nerevar is seen as a great unifier who brought together the clans of the Chimer and established the government template for modern Morrowind. The Tribunal rule in his name (even though they very likely may be responsible for his death). Fittingly the Temple had five Greater Saints — the Tribunal, Veloth and Nerevar.
- Fungus Humongous: Tree-sized mushrooms are a common sight in Morrowind. Telvanni settlements consist almost exclusively of mushroom houses, and many homes (there and elsewhere) have potted mushrooms as decoration.
- God-Emperor: While they don't legally count themselves as the emperors, the Dunmer worship the Tribunal, a trio of living, flesh and blood gods. They exert great influence, and each has a royal title, but they aren't officially the government — there's a separate King of Morrowind, who reports to the Emperor. Additionally, the Great Houses retain much of their autonomy as a result of favorable terms in the armistice signed between Morrowind and the Empire.
- Great Offscreen War: Much of what made the Dunmer what they are can be traced back to the War of the First Council detailed on the trope page.
- Guttural Growler: Male Dunmer in Morrowind all speak in a very low and gravelly voice. In contrast to the guards in Oblivion and Skyrim, Dunmer guards in Morrowind actually sound quite intimidating.
- Hades Shaded: Their ashen skin and red eyes are said to be indicative of a cursed placed on them by Azura for disobeying her in regards to the Heart of Lorkhan as well as the Tribunal (likely) murdering her champion, Nerevar. Previously, they, as the Chimer, were said to have pale golden skin (like that of Almalexia).
- Hypocrite: They used to be. They were xenophobic and didn't like outlanders settling to Morrowind, but they had no problem invading other nations in order to kidnap their inhabitants as slaves. Additionally, the Tribunal Temple outlawed necromancy and made it punishable by death despite it being legal (with certain limitations) elsewhere in the empire. However, the Temple faithful would summon the spirits of their ancestors or reanimate their corpses to serve as guards for their tombs and other holy sites. This was considered a holy act in reverence of their ancestors, with any other forms of necromancy being a sacrilege.
- Of the Mer races, and in competition with the Imperials for the most balanced overall. They are equally proficient in various Combat, Magic, and Stealth classes. They are highly adaptable and make for good cross-class builds as well, especially offensively oriented ones. With efficient leveling, they can reach Master of All territory.
- Perhaps due to the drastic changes in their lifestyles and situation after the Red Year, this is downplayed in Skyrim; Dunmer in that game are now more focused on being stealthy magic users. They can still function in combat roles, but they've lost much of their iron.
- Living Gasbag: Netch are a giant, leathery, jellyfish-looking creature native to Morrowind that the Dunmer farm for their hides.
- The Migration:
- Originally, as the Chimer, they were led to Morrowind in a mass migration from the Summerset Isles by the prophet Veloth.
- Following the events of the Red Year, the Dunmer people were forced to flee Morrowind. Many poured into Solstheim, which by the 4th Era wasn't much more than a frozen rock and site of a failed Imperial mining colony. Others fled to mainland Skyrim, settling in the poorer areas of eastern Skyrim where they are treated as little better than second class citizens to the Nords.
- Murder, Inc.: The Morag Tong is a guild of assassins officially sanctioned by the Dunmer government. To put it lightly, the Dunmer Great Houses don't get along very well, and since open warring between the Great Houses would weaken the Dunmer overall, the Morag Tong was sanctioned as the solution. Whenever someone with a enough wealth to hire the Morag Tong wants someone dead, an "Honorable Writ of Execution" will be created for that person and a Tong assassin will be dispatched to kill them.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Dunmer are unique amongst the Elven races in that they don't share the belief that mortality was a cruel trick played upon Elvenkind by Lorkhan when he created the world. They by and large actually tend to agree with humanity in considering mortality a gift rather than a curse.
- Noble Savage: Played straight by the more peaceful Ashlander tribes. Averted by the Erabenimsum tribe under it's "war" leadership and the various "rogue" Ashlanders.
- Not So Different: Let's see: an Elven race which worships Daedra, practices slavery, and is split into two distinct groups. Are we talking about the Dunmer or the Ayleids?
- Oop North: In Skyrim they tend towards Northern English accents, presumably due to the connotations of cynicism and general working-class-ness, although there are a few Cockney voice actors in there for the same reason. Taken to a surreal extreme with Raven Rock's Lancastrian guard captain.
- Our Elves Are Different: They have dark skin and red eyes. They also differ from most depictions from "dark elves," particularly the Drow, primarily by being NOT Always Chaotic Evil. They do share some elements such as Fantastic Racism, a propensity for slavery, their Great Houses as the form of government, and their appearance being the (probable) result of a divine curse, so they do have a few parallels with drow. However, they do not live under ground, aren't particularly matriarchal, and, as mentioned, aren't always evil.
- Our Gods Are Different: Part of their split with the Altmer was because they preferred ancestor and Daedra worship. Later, they come to worship the Tribunal. Following the disappearance of the Tribunal and the events of the Red Year, the "New Temple" reformed and returned to their traditional ancestor worship and veneration of the "three good Daedra:" Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. They also revere the Tribunal as saints rather than gods.
- Pardon My Klingon: They have a fondness of calling those they dislike S'wits, Fetchers or N'wahs. N'wah appears to be a highly racist way of saying "foreigner", but the others are unexplained. For all intents and purposes, those three words correlate in that they are, respectively, the S-word, F-word, and N-word of Dunmeri culture.
- Physical God: They worshiped the Tribunal, three mortals (Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil) who ascended to godhood by tapping into the Heart of Lorkhan.
- Proud Merchant Race: House Hlaalu. It is the most "imperialized" house, with strong ties to the Empire, and thus all of the trade opportunities that provides. Corrupt Corporate Executive-type leaders thrive in the house and Chronic Backstabbing is common. The Oblivion Crisis and subsequent turmoil in Morrowind devastated House Hlaalu, as most of the Empire's presence retreated from Morrowind to defend the home front, and Hlaalu lost their chief partner and were left relatively powerless, but also saddled with most of the blame for the suffering of the Dunmer people.
- Proud Warrior Race: House Redoran. They aren't called the "Warrior House" for nothing. They are the Dunmer's first line of defense and even the Imperial Legions recognize the Redorans as a Badass Army. In the backstory, when Tiber Septim was threatening to invade Morrowind, House Redoran was preparing to defend Morrowind on their own while the other Great Houses chose to remain neutral or to accommodate the empire before the armistice was signed. During the Oblivion Crisis, Redoran's armies of deadly warriors were instrumental in fending off the daedra and they won much acclaim and influence in the years after, supplanting the impotent and tarnished House Hlaalu.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: They play with it, just like with Dark Is Not Evil above. They do have bright red eyes, and they are generally seen as dour and cynical as a race, but they aren't prone to outright evil or villainy any more than members of any other race. However, they are supposedly indicative of a curse placed upon them by Azura.
- Religious Bruiser: House Indoril and the Ordinators particularly so, all of them very religious and capable of kicking your ass.
- The Remnant: Dunmer-ruled Morrowind is reduced to this following the Red Year and the subsequent Argonian invasion.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The core of their conflict thousands of years ago with the Dwemer boils down to this. The Dwemer are certainly aware of the existence of the Daedra the Chimer worship, but are steadfast in their belief that the Daedra are not gods; so much so that Vivec facetiously commented that the Dwemer instead worshiped "their Gods of Reason and Logic."
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Inverted by the native Camonna Tong, which is essentially the Dunmer mafia. They are extremely brutal as they run Morrowind's illegal drug, slave, and smuggling industries.
- Scary Impractical Armor: Quite a few of the native Dunmer styles of armor fit such as Chitin, Glass, Bonemold, Dreugh, and Indoril. Each possess spikes and oversized shoulders.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Bonemold is an iconic armor type of the Dunmer people. Exactly what type of bones it is molded from is never made clear. Additionally, Chitin is a type of light armor crafted from the shells of Morrowind's giant insects and favored by the Ashlanders, though "civilized" Dunmer will use it as well.
- Slave Liberation: This is the goal of the Twin Lamps, an organization (led by the daughter of the Duke of Vvardenfell) dedicated to freeing slaves and returning them to their homelands. Some time after the events of Morrowind, it happens on a national scale which upsets quite a few traditionalist Dunmer. Any remaining illegal slaves are finally freed when the Argonians invade.
- The Theocracy: House Indoril and the Tribunal Temple held significant influence over the affairs of the Dunmer, even after the Empire took over. Downplayed after the Red Year, though the "New Temple" is still prominent in the lives of the surviving Dunmer.
- The Tower: The Chimer would claim Red Mountain in Morrowind where Lorkhan's heart fell (known as Red Tower). After the Dwemer discovered the Heart beneath the mountain and disappeared mysteriously while attempting to use its power, three Chimer would successfully use it to become the Physical Gods known as the Tribunal. Unbeknownst to them, their former ally, Voryn Dagoth, also used the Heart before he was slain and coalesced in the millennia the Tribunal ruled. He returned and cut them off from the Heart, preventing them from recharging their divinity. Following the events of Morrowind, the Dwemer enchantments on the Heart would be severed, killing Dagoth and stripping the Tribunal of their divinity permanently. This also stripped Red Tower of its "Stone," depriving it forever of its reality altering powers. (Later events would see Red Mountain violently erupt, erasing it almost entirely from the world.)
- Values Dissonance: An In-Universe case. Most Tamriellic cultures, especially those heavily influenced by the religion of the Nine Divines, view the Daedric Princes with suspicion at best and consider them outright evil entities at worst (though acknowledge that some are more benevolent toward mortals than others). The Dunmer religion casts Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala as "good" Daedra and Malacath, Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, and Sheogorath, as "bad" Daedra. To note:
- Traditionally across Tamriel, Boethiah and Mephala are considered evil entities, but the Dunmer revere them because the belief that Mephala's deceptions and Boethiah's Might Makes Right philosophy both serve to make the Dunmer stronger. While everyone else views Mephala as a force of destructive and secret plots, the Dunmer view her plotting as a way to make them more clever and wary. Boethiah's constant tests of strength and ruthlessness make the other peoples of Tamriel view him as a brutish, treacherous killer, the Dunmer see him as pushing them to become ever stronger and better as a people.
- Malacath is viewed as an "evil" entity by the Dunmer, while the rest of Tamriel views him as more neutral force. Malacath, being an enemy of Boethiah, is naturally cast as an enemy of the Dunmer, not to mention the fact that Malacath's sphere involves the outcast, spurned, and downtrodden, so it's entirely understandable why a culture that spurns outsiders and outcasts and practices large-scale slavery wouldn't be positively inclined toward him.
- Interestingly, the Dunmer are probably the only elves as a species who don't share the other elves' distaste for Lorkhan, instead viewing him as the god who exposed the lies and deceptions of the Aedra.
- While their categorizing of Molag Bal as a "bad" daedra isn't exactly controversial as he is generally considered the one daedra completely lacking in redeeming qualities, the context of his placement in the House of Troubles is that the King of Rape disrupts their gene pools, disrupting class and racial purity, rather than taking issue with violation of consent or oppression.
- Voluntary Vassal: How Morrowind came to join the Septim Empire. Vivec, having recently lost two of the tools Kagrenac to Dagoth Ur and thus, the ability for the Tribunal to recharge their divinity, negotiated this status with Tiber Septim when Septim's forces threatened to invade. Vivec also offered the Numidium in trade, allowing Morrowind to keep many of its pre-Imperial privileges (including slavery, which was illegal elsewhere in the Empire).
The Deep Elves of all of North Tamriel, whose civilization ("Dwemereth") was centered around modern-day Morrowind, where the epicenter of their culture was built in and around Red Mountain, though they also had a strong presence in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Skyrim as they tended to build their elaborate underground cities near and beneath mountain ranges. When referring to them, Elves mostly use the term "Dwemer", which translates to "Deep-Elves" or "Deep Folk", while men mostly tend to use the term "Dwarves", though the latter term is a result of a common scholarly misconception.
The early history of the Dwemer is still clouded in deep mystery. Unlike the other races of Mer, there is no known record of their disassociation with the Aldmer, which is believed to have happened in very early Tamriellic history. They were an industrious, highly intelligent, and extremely technologically advanced people, but were also known to be cruel, arrogant, and dogmatic. Contemporary accounts describe them as "unfathomable" and "unknowable", with truly alien belief systems unlike anyone else in Tamriel. While they mostly wanted to be left alone, they came into conflict with every other race that encountered them, usually over religious differences (the Dwemer were known to be extreme atheists, refuting that any known "divine" beings were truly "gods" worth worshiping). They especially clashed often with the Chimer of Morrowind, the ancestors of the Dunmer, and the Nords of Skyrim.
The entire race mysteriously vanished entirely during the 1st Era, around the time of the Battle of Red Mountain during the War of the First Council. The theories as to why are divided, but many scholars believes it has likely something to do with the fact that the Dwemer Tonal Architect, Lord Kagrenac, was running experiments on the Heart of Lorkhan after it was found in Red Mountain during the same time as the war, and that this triggered the event that removed the Dwemer from existence, which coincidentally simply happened at the same time as the battle. Only the ruins of their civilization remain, though these are still protected by deadly traps and mechanical guardians, making them very dangerous places to visit.
- Abusive Precursors: They came into conflict with just about every other race they encountered and left behind ruins filled with deathtraps and highly advanced (but often dangerous) technology. These facts alone would make them closer to Neglectful Precursors, but the Skyrim Dwemer's treatment of the Falmer puts them squarely in the "abusive" category. With their former empire decimated by the invading Nords, the Dwemer offered to take in their displaced Snow Elf cousins. The Dwemer then enslaved and mutated them, twisting them into the bestial modern Falmer.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Their more massive ruins qualify. Most have various steam/enchantment powered machinery still running and mecha-mooks still on patrol despite the Dwemer having vanished thousands of years ago.
- A God Am I: Of a sort. They were Naytheists who did not believe that the known divine entities were truly "gods". In fact, it was "unfashionable" amongst the Dwemer to view their own "golden spirits" as anything less than the those of the "divine".
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Exactly what powers and controls their various "animunculi" remains a mystery, but they must be programmed with some sort of rudimentary A.I. It is said that some of these machines are capable of interpreting the actions of people around them and responding accordingly. Various attempts to control the mechas have been made in the millennia since the Dwemer vanished, often ending with the machines going berserk.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: The Dwemer refused to believe anything, focusing entirely on "their twin gods of Reason and Logic." It is implied in some Obscure Texts that this is in fact the source of many of their most advanced technologies; by refusing to accept the laws of physics and be constrained by the rules of magic and Aedric law, the Dwemer were able to devise technologies that used tonal architecture to manipulate the world directly, in a manner akin to the Thu'um. This extreme form of skepticism and refutation of everything is implied to have extended to Numidium, which became the Anthropomorphic Personification of the concept of "is not."
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This is apparently what the Dwemer race was trying to do in one form or another when they disappeared. One theory for their disappearance is that their efforts to do this actually worked, and that they are now on said "higher plane." This is supported by a comment from the wizard Falion, who says that he's met them while traveling the planes beyond Nirn.
- Badass Beard: They were known to have lengthy and sometimes elaborate beards (often shown styled in a fashion that would typically be identified as "Mesopotamian", and were known to create technology that seemly violated the natural laws of the world to create advanced technology, robot armies, and even Humongous Mecha, vouching for their badassery.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality:
- According to contemporary sources, the Dwemer's personality and culture were utterly alien by human and even other mer understanding. A major part of their outlook was the idea of refuting everything as real, whether it be something they sensed, something that was actually there, or even the Divines themselves. To quote former dev/writer Michael Kirkbride:"That's why the Dwemer are the weirdest race in Tamriel and, frankly, also the scariest. They look(ed) like us, they sometimes act(ed) like us, but when you really put them under the magnifying glass you see nothing but vessels that house an intelligence and value system that is by all accounts Beyond Human Comprehension. (...) There isn't even a word to describe the Dwarven view on divinity. They were atheists on a world where gods exist."
- It also may have less to do with genuine inscrutability and more to do with nearly all information records on the Dwemer disappearing, or being destroyed, around the same time, a refusal to accept anything they don't like no matter how true it is and their monumental arrogance and contempt for "lesser races."
- There's also an implication that, for the people in-universe, Dwemer inscrutability just came from the sheer technological gap and accompanying culture gap — while Men were barely climbing out of the stone age and racial slavery and other Mer were puttering around with a combination of very early Iron Age technology and some magic, the Dwemer were effectively a late Information Age society, with massive industrialization and automation, an incredibly deep understanding of Nirn's physics, creature comforts and luxuries comparable to or exceeding what we have today in the real world, and their "calling" ability may well have been a fantasy equivalent of the internet. Needless to say, the culture gap and daily thoughts, hopes and worries between the average Dwemer citizen and the average Nord clansman or Velothi-Chimer tribesman would've been chasm-like.
- According to contemporary sources, the Dwemer's personality and culture were utterly alien by human and even other mer understanding. A major part of their outlook was the idea of refuting everything as real, whether it be something they sensed, something that was actually there, or even the Divines themselves. To quote former dev/writer Michael Kirkbride:
- But What About the Astronauts?: One Dwemer — Yagrum Bagarn — was in an undescribed "outer realm" when the calamity that wiped out his people occurred. He returned to find them gone, caught the Corprus Disease soon after, and then entered the care of the famed wizard/Corprus researcher Divayth Fyr. Later, in Skyrim, the wizard Falion claims to have encountered other Dwemer in realms outside of normal space-time who have presumably survived in a similar fashion to Bagarn, but for whatever reason have not (or cannot) return to Nirn.
- Cessation of Existence:
- Whatever happened to them, Dunmeri Physical God Vivec states that he cannot sense them on any known plane of existence.
- In Skyrim, the wizard Falion claims to have encountered them while traversing the realms beyond Nirn. It is possible these were other Dwemer in the same situation as Yagrum Bagarn, who was in an undescribed "outer realm" at the time of the disappearance and was unaffected. Other Dwemer in that situation may simply have chosen not to return to Nirn.
- Conlang: Dwemeris.
- Culture Chop Suey: While the most distinctive aspect of their culture is their heavy use of Steampunk and Magitek, the Dwemer themselves dressed and wore their beards in a manner akin to Mesopotamian cultures, such as the Babylonians. In Skyrim and Online, their armor and weaponry tend to have a very Bronze Age Mediterranean influence.
- The Dreaded: They were so alien and so advanced that they were said to be feared by the Nords, the Chimer, and maybe even the gods themselves.
- Dug Too Deep: They discovered the still-beating heart of the dead god Lorkhan digging deep beneath Red Mountain. Whatever it is they (or, specifically, Tonal Architect Kagrenac) tried to do with the heart, it would cause their entire race to disappear from all known planes of existence.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Almost all of their cities were dug deep into the ground, and some get extremely elaborate.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Even though the Dwemer were a sub-race of elves, they didn't much care for the other elven races. They were frequently at war with the Chimer, the ancestors of the Dunmer, over religious differences (though they did form an Enemy Mine alliance with them when both races were threatened by the Nords), and were distrustful of the Falmer even after the latter swore fealty to them (see Kick the Dog below).
- Enemy Mine: Formed one with their longtime rival Chimer when both races were threatened by the invading Nords. The coalition was successful as the Nord army was decimated at Red Mountain.
- Eternal Engine: Much of their machinery is still up and running even some 4000+ years after their disappearance. It helps that they were believed to have bent the laws of nature to Ragnark-proof their creations, Justifying the trope.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: They seem to have used to build names by mashing hard-sounding consonants together, although it's unclear whether that was actually the case or just a transliteration issue (since Dwemer language and alphabet varied wildly from Tamriel's lingua franca of the day, Aldmeris). Names known from modern sources contain vowels, such as Yagrum Bagarn (although he could've taken up the name for convenient interaction with his hosts at Tel Fyr), Kagrenac, or Dahrk Mezalf. Names mentioned in books — not necessarily (Bluthanch, Nchunak, Nblthd).
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Specifically, the "refusal to accept their divinity" part. The conflict with the Chimer was over religion and magic versus science and reason, with the Chimer choosing the former and the Dwemer choosing the latter. They were said to summon Daedra in order to put their divinity to the test.
- For Science!: The Dwemer were a very science-focused race. They summoned Daedra just to test their divinity, were capable of creating complex mechanisms, and even created scientific devices to safely read Elder Scrolls. They were also ruthless, amoral and arrogant, often hostile to any other race they encountered and not at all above using living beings for experimentation and slave labor.
- Genius Bruiser: The most technologically advanced race known to have ever walked Tamriel. It's said that even the dullest of their kind was still a genius compared to a clever man, and that even a Dwemer child was capable of building a mechanical golem. The only military force in history that really challenged them was a Nord army led by masters of the Thu'um, and even then, the Dwemer crushed them after joining forces with the Chimer.
- Godzilla Threshold: According to one telling of their final days, Kagrenac only enacted his plan on the Heart of Lorkhan when the Chimer successfully infiltrated the Red Mountain stronghold.
- Great Offscreen War:
- They were heavily involved with the War of the First Council and the Battle of Red Mountain thousands of years ago, leading up to their disappearance. The impacts of these events are felt in the plots for Morrowind and Skyrim, and plays some role in Online, particularly its own Morrowind-focused chapter.
- The Dwemer were apparently also engaged in a massive subterranean war with groups of Falmer rebels, a war which was raging right up until the Dwemer vanished.
- Humongous Mecha: They seemed to enjoy creating them. The Numidium is the most famous example, and the parts of unfinished giant mechas can be found in various ruins. On the smaller end of the scale but still qualifying are their Steam Centurions, which tower over normal-sized people and pack quite the punch.
- Kick the Dog: When Falmer refugees begged the Skyrim-Dwemer to save their race from genocide, the Dwemer forced them to blind themselves, made them into servants (eventually slaves), and probably caused them to mutate into the beasts they are today.
- Last of His Kind:
- One surviving Dwemer, Yagrum Bagarn, is encountered during the main quest of Morrowind. He was in an undescribed "outer realm" outside of time when the calamity that that wiped out his people occurred and returned to find them gone. He caught the Corprus disease soon after and ended up in the Corprusarium. His body is badly bloated from the disease and it's clear his mind is not what it once was either.
- The wizard Falion indicates there may be other Dwemer out there, either ascended by their ritual or otherwise outside of normal space-time like Yagrum Bagarn and thus not being affected by the loss of their species.
- Light Is Not Good: Their architecture, machinery, weapons, and armor typically include a lot of gold and bronze colors. It doesn't change that they were generally incomprehensible and cruel to other races.
- Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: Haughty, egotistic and very cruel at times, they made mechanical devices, metaphysical theorem and buildings using technologies and materials centuries more advanced than anything seen since. They went so far as to try and make themselves Gods, and managed to vanish completely, the whole race, every one of them. Now all that is left are their machines and ruins picked clean by centuries of looters.
- Loophole Abuse: In this case, loopholes in the laws of physics, nature, reality itself... they even devised a means to read an Elder Scroll without all of the nasty side effects (blindness, madness, etc.) Dwemer's magical technology seemly involved machines and tools designed to manipulate "tonal architecture" or the sounds and vibrations created by the "Earth Bones," which were the parts of the Aedra that were used to create and define the laws of the world. It is believed that they completely bypassed "normal" magic (which involves using the magicka that flows into the world from the sun and the stars) and instead hijacked the fundamental laws of the world and used them for their own ends.
- Lost Superweapon: The Numidium, a thousand-foot-tall Humongous Mecha designed by the Dwemer to be powered by the heart of a dead god, and possibly to become a new god. It fell into the hands of the Dunmer following the disappearance of the Dwemer, who considered anything of Dwemeri construction to be blasphemous, and thus never used it. Later, when Tiber Septim was threatening to invade, the Dunmeri Physical God Vivec offered it to Septim in exchange for granting Morrowind special privileges as a Voluntary Vassal to the Empire. Septim would order his mages to find a way to power and control it. Once they did, he used to crush the Aldmeri Dominion and capture their capital city in less than an hour of fighting.
- Lost Technology: Almost everything they created is now this. No other group has come even close to the technological accomplishments of the Dwemer in the thousands of years since they vanished.
- Mad Scientist: Many of their craftsmen and enchanters could quality. Most notable was Kagrenac, the Chief Tonal Architect who devised a method and created the tools needed to tap into the divine power of the Heart of Lorkhan.
- Magic Music: Of a sort. Some sources state their reality warping was done by altering the "tonal architecture" of the Earth Bones.
- The Magic Versus Technology War: The Dwemer were a highly technologically advanced race blended with a mastery of Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. The two races they spent the most time in conflict with were the Nords, Horny Vikings with the favor of their gods (the early Nordic versions of the Aedra), and the Chimer, just past the tribal stage and settling into their first cities relatively recently and who had the favor their gods, the "good" Daedra. Against the Nords, the Dwemer suffered numerous initial defeats before allying with the Chimer. Later, after the alliance fell through due to the Dwemer's discovery of the Heart of Lorkhan, the Chimer were able to infiltrate the Dwemer Red Mountain stronghold while, according to some tellings, the rest of the Chimer army pinned Dwemer reinforcements down outside.
- Magitek: Along with Steampunk and Clock Punk, many of their creations were made with judicious use of magical enchantments. They were said to be the most skilled enchanters in all of Tamriel during their time.
- Mecha-Mooks: Created all manner of them, known as "Animunculi", including spider centurion workers, sphere centurion soldiers (who roll around as metal balls before unfolding into blade and/or crossbow armed humanoid robots), and massive Steam Centurion golems. As these creations were made with the same Ragnarök Proofing as their other creations and are designed to repair themselves, many are still up and running in their ruins thousands of years after their disappearance.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
- The Rourken clan of Dwemer was so opposed to an alliance with the Chimer that they chose to self-exile themselves to Hammerfell. Their chieftain is said to have thrown the Volendrung hammer across Tamriel and led his clan to "wherever the hammer fell", giving the region its name.
- In the final days of their known existence, it's said that many Dwemer didn't agree with the general idea to unmake themselves and then reforge themselves into immortal godlike beings. Not because it was blasphemous or anything like that, just because they thought it would end poorly for every Dwemer on Nirn. Which it probably did.
- Nay-Theist: There is no denying the existence of god-like beings in the Aedra and Daedra, but the Dwemer held them in no special regard. They were said to especially despise the Daedra, mocking and scorning the "foolish" rituals of their followers (primarily the Chimer). They would even summon Daedra specifically to test their divinity.
- Never Found the Body: The Dwemer vanished millennia ago. No one knows what happened to them.
- Noisy Robots: Their various animunculi are all quite noisy, with steam powered gears and clanking metal sounds as they move. According to the journal of one Nord in Dragonborn, the noise of Dwemer machinery is so loud that it can drive a person stark raving mad if they're unfortunate enough to build their house over a Dwarven ruin, as he did.
- Nonindicative Name: They weren't any smaller than other races. The term "dwarf" was given to them by the giants of the Velothi Mountains and stuck as an archeological misnomer after it was picked up by the Nords and other races of Men. (The meta-answer is that it's a holdover from Arena, where they were just straight-up Tolkien dwarves, before Noonan and Kirkbride decided to take them in a more interesting direction.)
- Not So Different: According to former writer/developer Gary Noonan, the Dwemer were originally one of the clans of the Chimer. This has seemingly been RetConned and has not appeared in any in-game source since.
- Older Is Better: Despite its age, their weapons and armor are still better than the majority of modern equivalents. Justified given the Ragnarök Proofing and Reality Warping that went into the items' creation.
- Ominous Cube: Several types are associated with the Dwemer, which is fitting given their advanced technology and abilities. Best exemplified by Dwemer Lexicons, glowing cubes which can store vast amount of information. The Dwemer even devised a means to divine the information from an Elder Scroll onto a Lexicon, bypassing the usual side effects on mortals such as blindness and insanity.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played with. To note:
- Playing the trope straight, the Dwemer did build technologically advanced cities, typically deep into the ground, complete with gold/bronze architecture.. They warred with just about every other race they came into contact with, particularly other races of Mer, in classic Elves vs. Dwarves fashion. They were known to have glorious beards and were master craftsmen, with their equipment still being among the best and most sought after in Tamriel even thousands of years after their mysterious disappearance, in some way related to them digging too deep, a classic fantasy Dwarf problem.
- On the "aversion" side, the Dwemer were as sub-race of Mer (Elves), with their name meaning the "Deep Elves" or "Deep Ones," referring to their philosophical depth. They were of average size compared to the other races of Tamriel and the term "dwarf" is an archeological misnomer. They were the first "normal sized" race to encounter the Giants of the Velothi Mountains, who referred to them as "dwarves" in size comparison to themselves. Later, the Nords (and through them, the other races of Men) picked up the term and it stuck. They weren't known to have any stereotypical "Dwarvish" accents, with the only Dwemer spoken to in the series to date having a nasally, nerdy voice of all things. While the Dwemer did create all manner of extremely advanced technology, much of it was magically derived in one form or another, with it being said that they were also master enchanters.
- Also, it has to be noted that a bit of the weirdness about them comes from the fact that they did begin meta-life as straight-laced Tolkien-style dwarves in Arena; their old delves were much more "dwarfy" and didn't have any of the technological bits attached. It was only really in Redguard and Morrowind that they were fleshed out to a heavy degree and became the unique, reality-defying scientists that we know today.
- Our Gods Are Different: They did not consider any known divine beings to truly be "gods." This obviously put them into frequent conflict with the other, more religious races around them.
- Poor Communication Kills: According to some tellings of their final days, Dumac, the Dwemer king, did not know what Kagrenac was planning to do with the Heart of Lorkhan, and had he known, would have stopped Kagrenac.
- Pride Before a Fall: According to the story "Azura and the Box", an elderly Dwemer scientist managed to make the Daedric Prince Azura look bad and that is why they disappeared. Though there are several versions, the one found in Skyrim states that he worked with a priest, summoned Azura and tested her abilities to learn their scope; he asked if Azura knew what was in the box (a rose). When Azura answered the Dwemer, he opened the box showing it empty, and Azura left, very indignant. After he left the assembly the rose fell from where he hid it in his sleeve and he died that night.
- Proud Scholar Race: They blend the "mystical" and "scientific" aspects, though to them, the two are one and the same. Even though they've been gone for thousands of years, none of the extant races have even come close to the scholarly achievements of the Dwemer.
- Ragnarök Proofing: Dwemer artifacts are still up and running thousands of years later. Their Mecha-Mooks are designed to repair their constructs (and each other). Note that this only prevents natural wear and tear; a dwemer machine won't rust, but if you smash it with an axe it will fall apart just like anything else. A dwemer pumping station will never corrode or degrade, but if you swap out the water with flesh-searing magma, it's still going to melt or at least clog up and shut down. Even so, many Dwarven ruins show signs of some long-term disrepair, with collapsed tunnels or broken machinery that the constructs are still trying to repair.
- Riddle for the Ages:
- No one has definitively figured out what happened to the Dwemer. Their fate is one of the largest running mysteries in the entire series, alongside the various mysteries of the Elder Scrolls themselves.
- In-Universe, the mystery deepened by the time of Skyrim since much of what was known about the Dwemer was again lost in the 200 years following the Oblivion Crisis and the eruption of Red Mountain (which wiped away a great number of Dwemeri ruins in Vvardenfell, the epicenter of Dwemer culture prior to their disappearance). Even one of the greatest experts on the Dwemer, Calcelmo, knows less about the Dwemer than some amateur archeologists in Vvardenfell during the time of Morrowind.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The core of their conflict thousands of years ago with the Chimer boils down to this. The Dwemer are certainly aware of the existence of the Daedra the Chimer worship, but are steadfast in their belief that the Daedra are not gods; so much so that Vivec facetiously commented that the Dwemer instead worshiped "their Gods of Reason and Logic."
- Scale of Scientific Sins: The Dwemer checked boxes 1-3 with their Mecha-Mooks, futuristic technologies, and their twisting of the Falmer to the point where it changed their very souls; then tried to fulfill 4-7 in one fell swoop upon tapping into the Heart of Lorkhan (attempting to create a new god while uplifting their entire race to another plane of existence). This obviously put them at odds with their much more religious neighbors in the Chimer.
- Schizo Tech: One of Marobar Sul's "Ancient Tales of the Dwemer" claims that the Dwemer invented their famous automatons, and perfected them as weapons of war, before they had the idea to dress their flesh-and-blood soldiers in platemail armor. The Publisher's Note says that this was possibly a misunderstanding by the Chimer, who wouldn't have been used to seeing full platemail armor as it was rare among the races of Mer, and may have mistaken armored Dwemer soldiers for machines all the long. Note that while metal armor was a thing in this timeframe, particularly among the Ayleids, the Dwemer existed primarily during the Tamriel equivalent of the Bronze Age, where metal armor was more commonly akin to Greek hoplon armor.
- Selective Obliviousness: The Dwemer were well-known for this, rejecting and trying to find a way around anything they didn't agree with, even down to the fundamental laws of the cosmos in the setting.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: They are the fantasy equivalent. The tools and technologies they left behind are still used by the more clever denizens of Tamriel to accomplish feats that conventional technologies and magics cannot match. Some examples include creating the tools necessary to tap into the divine powers of the heart of a dead god, machinery capable of safely reading an Elder Scroll without the nasty side effects, a reality-warping Humongous Mecha in working order, and a fully-functional Weather-Control Machine.
- Superior Species: They certainly considered themselves as such, with every other race (Men, Mer, or otherwise) being beneath them. A big part of their Naytheism came from their belief that even the supposed "gods" were not truly superior to them. Arguably Justified compared to the other races of Tamriel, as their advancements (technological, metaphysical, and more) were (and still are) far, far beyond what any other race in Tamriel, maybe even Nirn, is capable of.
- Technicolor Blade: Their weapons all have a goldish/bronze appearance.
- Telepathy: The Dwemer were said to have an ability known as "The Calling" which allowed them a "silent and magickal" means of communicating with one another, even over vast distances.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Or rather, mer. One theory about the vanishing of the Dwemer states that they started trying to elevate themselves to a higher plane, up to becoming gods. It backfired, causing the entire Dwemer race to just vanish, across Tamriel, all in one day. They were also evidently capable of creating technological devices capable of reading Elder Scrolls, which are practically a form of Tome of Eldritch Lore.
- Time Abyss: Likely not the individual Dwemer themselves (though with their reported abilities, it isn't out of the realm of possibility), but for the Dwemer as a whole. It is said that, during the Dawn Era (an era before linear time existed while the mortal plane was still settling post-creation), they studied the "death of the Earth Bones" to find ways to manipulate them.
- Time Travel: The Dwemer had at least some technology in Blackreach that was able to manipulate time and space, although its exact purpose and function is unclear. Online's Greymoor expansion features a quest where the player has to fix this malfunctioning machine, which is randomly teleporting in creatures from across Tamriel and is sending others to different points in time.
- The Tower: The Dwemer attempted to use the Heart of Lorkhan to construct their own Tower, as well as to become a new god — Anumidium (or "Walk-Brass"). They intended to use it to transcend mortality, but something went awry, causing the entire Dwemer race to disappear from all known planes of existence in a single instant. The Dunmeri Tribunal would then claim the machine, now know as Numidium, and would later trade it to the Emperor Tiber Septim in exchange for special privileges when Morrowind joined Septim's Empire as a Voluntary Vassal. Septim would then use it to complete his conquest of all of Tamriel. However, as a result of the events of Daggerfall, the Numidium would be destroyed along with its makeshift Stone, the Mantella (an immensely powerful soul gem said to contain the soul of a Shezarrine).
- Transhuman: Another possible theory is that, rather than ascending successfully, the Dwemer instead attempted to manipulate the "Earthbones", the fallen remnants of the Aedra, to break themselves down into the base elements and then reforge themselves. Naturally they got the reforging step of the process wrong.
- Underground City: Famous for building these. Their ruins in modern Tamriel were all formerly these.
- Volcano Lair: The heart of their ancient civilization was set up in and around the Red Mountain volcano. Many of their other cites famously tapped into lava underground for geothermal power.
- Weather-Control Machine: They built one (known as the Karstangz-Beharn) in their city of Bamz-Amschend, now buried beneath modern-day Mournhold. As shown in Tribunal, it's still fully functional given a proper power source.
- Written by the Winners: Following their disappearance, the only groups in positions to know much about the Dwemer were the Dunmer (having been turned from the Chimer) and the Nords, both of whom warred with the Dwemer and wouldn't have had any reason to say anything good about them. In the years that followed, the Dwemer would be demonized by the Dunmer and popularized by ahistorical tales like Marobar Sul's Ancient Tales of the Dwemer series. Not helping matters is that their language was quickly lost after their disappearance, making it impossible for anyone to read the Dwemer's own records. (A means of translation was discovered around the time of Morrowind, but was apparently lost again by the time of Skyrim 200 years later.)
- The Worf Effect: Despite their technology and knowledge of the laws of the natural world, they suffered numerous initial defeats at the hands of the Thu'um-using Nords before allying with the Chimer. Later, their Red Mountain stronghold was infiltrated by Nerevar and the Chimer. While the rest of the details of that event vary between the numerous versions, some state that the rest of the Chimer army was able to pin down Dwemer reinforcements outside.
- Wrong Context Magic: Dwemer technology and how they used magic is incomprehensible to modern mages and scholars, due to their magic operating on principles that are outside the rules of conventional magic. Similar to the Thu'um, their magic functions on manipulating Tonal Architecture and the Earth Bones directly, so their engineering and constructs, while clearly magical in nature, just don't make sense to those who study them.
Thrown into the pitch black dread of night.
Living in fear as their minds become lost,
As their eyes begin dimming the light.
Chained and enslaved,
What once was light turned to blackness.
Alone and betrayed,
Sinking deeper into madness.
The Snow Elves, whose Merethic Era empire spanned throughout Skyrim and Solstheim, once had a civilization rivaling that of the Altmer. Unlike the other races of Mer elsewhere in Tamriel, they lived peacefully along side the races of Men for at least several centuries. However, an event known as the "Night of Tears" saw them slaughter and burn the Atmoran/Nord city of Saarthal. In revenge, Ysgramor recruited an army of 500 Atmorans and invaded Skyrim, launching a brutal war that nearly drove the Falmer to extinction. In desperation, the survivors turned to their Dwemeri cousins and pleaded for protection from the onslaught. The Dwemer agreed to grant the Snow Elves refuge, but they did not trust their guests and demanded in return for their protection that they eat a poisonous fungus which rendered them blind. The Dwemer then forced the now-blind Snow Elves into becoming their servants, and then eventually enslaved them outright. Over generations, the enslaved Falmer were further mutated by the Dwemer, turning them into degenerated, debased, and feral creatures little better than Goblins who dwell underground.
Eventually, the Falmer rebelled against their oppressors and was even successful in overthrowing some Dwemer strongholds. The rebelling Falmer organised their forces in the former city of Blackreach, and went to wage a prolonged war against the Dwemer, know as the "War of the Crag", which first came to a conclusion with their former masters' mysterious disappearance. Since then, a great many of the Falmer still dwell in the cities and facilities that where left behind by the Dwemer, acting as some sort of twisted caretakers of the ruins.
In spite of their mental degeneration, the Falmer still remember the hardships and betrayals they suffered at the hands of other races, and they now hold an almost instinctual hatred of the surface world and everyone who dwells on it. This, combined with the fact that Falmer are extremely territorial, often brings them into conflict with more civilized populations, as they have been known to lead raiding parties in the cover of night and viciously attack anyone who dares to venture or settle too close to their underground homes.
Physically, the pre-mutation Falmer resembled the Altmer, being tall with lean frames, angular facial features, and elongated skulls. However, they had pale white skin and hair, and pale blue or even light-grey eyes. Following the mutation, the Falmer appear as hunched-over grayish-skinned humanoids without noses (instead having long nostril slits) and skin having grown over their blind eyes.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Exactly one Falmer has been seen in the entire series who isn't a barbaric scrounger. And that's only because he wasn't affected by the corruption that afflicts the rest of the race. He says there were more like him before, but his brother, a Vampire, destroyed their order. They are also showing signs of moving away from this. According to the last surviving non-mutated Snow Elf, they are slowly (over hundreds of years) regaining their sentience and may be able to communicate in several hundred more years.
- To both modern Nords and their Atmoran ancestors. Since the Merethic Era to the First Era, the Snow Elves fought against the first Atmoran settlers until they were slowly pushed out and annihilated by them. The ones not slaughtered turned to the Dwemer that transformed them in the twisted beings they are today. The Falmer were regarded as just boogeymen by superstitious Nords, who blamed them for dead cattle or any mysterious deaths, but by the time of the Fourth Era, they are pretty much real and are raiding the surface in search of slaves and said to be preparing for an invasion of Skyrim.
- The Dwemer also qualify, since they were the ones responsible for the Falmer's current condition. The Falmer did rebel against their masters in a conflict known as War of the Crag, which raged for centuries completely unknown to the Nords living the surface and would only end with the Battle of Red Mountain, which saw the Dwemer's complete extinction.
- Artificial Script: They have their own. Like Daedric, it is a simply cypher for the Latin alphabet.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Those ancient Falmer who survived the journey and trials of the Chantry of Auri-El could "become one with" Auri-El, their chief deity. After succeeding, they "ascended, bathed in light, a look of relief and contentment on their face."
- Beneath the Earth: They are now almost exclusively a subterranean race, having taken over many Dwemer ruins in Skyrim as well as many natural caves.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: They are known to farm Chaurus, a large insectoid species protected by hard chitin and who can spew corrosive acid. They use the Chaurus chitin to craft their weapons and armor, and use Chaurus eggs as a food source and in their potion-making.
- Body Horror: They've been twisted from this◊ to this◊, now possessing claws, fangs, nostril slits instead of noses, and have skin grown over their blind eyes.
- Born Unlucky: According to one story, the ancient Falmer were visited by Sai, the God of Luck in the Iliac Bay, but they treated him poorly. He never returned to them, depriving them of his ability to bring supernatural good luck.
- Conlang: They have their own "forgotten" one, Falmeris. Finding a translator for it is a side quest plot point in Skyrim.
- Create Your Own Villain: To the Nords, with a bit of Laser-Guided Karma. Their ancestors once nearly drove the Falmer to extinction, and in their desperation, the surviving Falmer fled to their Dwemer cousins, who twisted and mutated them into goblin-esque monsters. The Falmer of the 4th era are now growing more bold, venturing above ground to kidnap surface dwellers while their numbers swell beneath ground. They also seem to be regaining some of their lost sentience, forging better weapons and armor from farmed Chaurus chitin and practicing crude alchemy to create poisons from the plentiful mushrooms that grow in their underground lairs. The author of one in-game book in Skyrim even believes that the Falmer may be preparing to wage war on their surface dwelling ancestral enemies, which would be bad news for the already war-torn Skyrim.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: At one point, they had a society on par with the Altmer.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Despite being shown to create armor and clothing, very few Falmer are seen wearing anything on their feet. Possibly justified, as it is speculated that, due to their blindness, the Falmer use other means of detecting threats. This may include feeling vibrations in the ground with their feet.
- Enslaved Elves: To the Dwemer after nearly being driven to extinction. Taking it to another level, the Dwemer forced the Falmer to blind themselves and twisted them into barely-sapient creatures along the lines of Goblins.
- Elaborate Underground Base: While they've taken over many Dwemer ruins, they've also been shown to be capable of constructing elaborate networks of suspended bridges and platforms.
- The Falmer are closer to the D&D depiction of Dark Elves than the Dunmer (the actual Dark Elves of the Elder Scrolls series). Like the D&D versions of the Dark Elves, the Falmer were a race of elves that were forced underground and though succeeding generations became twisted versions of what they originally were. The Falmer, like the Dark Elves from D&D, are also usually Always Chaotic Evil and, incidentally, seem to be a matriarchal based society as the only spell casters are female and they seem to hold the highest positions of authority.
- They also have similarities to the Morlocks; they are a subterranean race that was forced into a technologically advanced underground world where they maintain and care for the ancient machinery, they have a pathological hatred for the surface world, they are barbaric and primitive (as opposed to the intricate political and social structure of Drow civilization), and they're smarter than they appear, having regained the ability to use magic and craft armor, weaponry, and potions, much like how the Morlocks were cultivating the Eloi as cattle without them being any the wiser.
- Eyeless Face: Though they still technically have eyes, the Falmer now have a layer of skin covering their eyes after centuries of living underground. This has gameplay connotations as well: They are completely incapable of light-based detection against sneakers, but have keen sound-based detection. You could walk right in front of them if silent enough.
- Final Solution: How Ysgramor chose to deal with them. He very nearly succeeded in wiping all of them out, save for those who fled to the Dwemer and a small population who hid at a single remote chantry.
- Freudian Excuse: Being betrayed by the Dwemer and abused for years has instilled the Falmer with a xenophobic hatred of all civilized races. However, in Dawnguard Knight-Paladin Gelebor, one of the few pure Snow Elves, explains that the Falmer chose to blind themselves to avoid extinction and submitted to the Dwemer by their own volition, and that how they devolved into the Falmer of today didn't happen because of that but for other reasons.
- Formerly Sapient Species: The Falmer have degenerated from graceful Snow Elves with a culture rivaling the Altmer into a race of blind, subterranean Morlock-like beasts with a primitive, xenophobic tribal culture, whose [Our Souls Are Different souls]] don't even register as humanoid anymore. The Dwemer, who took the surviving Falmer in after their annihilation by the Nords, forced the Falmer to blind themselves with poisonous mushrooms in exchange. The Dwemer used them as servants and slaves, and may have performed experiments on them that caused them to further mutate into their present form.
- Genocide Backfire: While there are conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the Falmer attack on Saarthal, it was the event that marked the beginning of the end of Falmer civilization when the Atmorans struck back.
- Heavily Armored Mook: Some modern Falmer outfit themselves in full suits of Chaurus-chitin armor.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: They are quite skilled with their bows despite being completely blind.
- Insistent Terminology: In Dawnguard, Knight-Paladin Gelebor prefers to be called a Snow-Elf, since the name Falmer has become stigmatised due to the actions of their debased kin, who he refers to as "The Betrayed".
- It Can Think: Though they give the impression of mindless monsters, they clearly have some semblance of intelligence. They corral and breed chaurus, craft weapons and armor, brew crude poisons from fungi, and in Dawnguard they've built impressive networks of bridges and ledges throughout the Forgotten Vale to host their settlements on. According to some scholars and Knight-Paladin Gelebor, they're beginning to venture above ground, and demonstrate cunning and deductive reasoning in their battle tactics.
- Last of His Kind: One unmutated Snow Elf yet lives in the 4th Era, Knight-Paladin Gelebor. He survived along with a small population of other unmutated Snow Elves at a remote chantry. However, his brother, who became a vampire, wiped out every other surviving Snow Elf, leaving only him.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Their lairs tend to be very dimly lit and claustrophobic, leading to this.
- The Morlocks: Formerly a graceful and advanced race of Mer, they were nearly exterminated and most of the survivors were forced to be blinded and corrupted by the Dwemer in exchange for their shelter. They now live as creatures little better than goblins beneath the earth, attacking any surface dwellers on sight. They also are known to torture their captives, and feed them to their pet Chaurus, judging by the number of human remains in Chaurus pens. If Alftand is anything to go by, they also skin surface dwellers and make leather from them. About the only Morlock trait they don't have confirmed is eating the surface dwellers...but sometimes, when you kill one, you find 'Human Flesh' in its inventory... and human remains in their refuse heaps...
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: In Dawnguard, there is one still uncorrupted Falmer. He pities the Falmer (referring to them as "the Betrayed") and uses the above Insistent Terminology to distinguish himself from them.
- Our Elves Are Different: Formerly had a civilization to rival the Altmer, with snow-white skin and hair, and they preferred to leave in Tamriel's coldest climates. They've been corrupted to the point that they are not even sapient anymore. In a lot of ways, they're closer to Tolkien's original orcs.
- Our Gods Are Different: While their pantheon overlaps significantly with the Altmer, the ancient Falmer had a desire to "become one with" Auri-El, their chief deity, in a way the Altmer do not demonstrate.
- Organic Technology: Almost everything they create is made from Chaurus chitin, the hard shells of the giant insectoid Chaurus creatures they farm.
- Really 700 Years Old: Knight-Paladin Gelebor, the last surviving uncorrupted Snow Elf, has been alive since the fall of the Falmer civilization some 4000+ years prior. Though the races of Mer are known to be naturally Long-Lived, this is extreme. (Gelebor heavily implies that he believes Auriel (Akatosh) himself is keeping him alive.)
- Sadistic Choice: Either die at the hands of Nords and face extinction, or blind yourselves and become subservient to the Dwemer.
- Slave Race: Became one to the Dwemer after Ysgramor and his companions slaughtered the majority of their population.
- Slave Liberation: The Falmer eventually rebelled against the Dwemer in Skyrim, resulting in the War of the Crag, which went on for several decades underground, while the Nords above remained blissfully unaware. The war only ended with the Dwemer's mysterious disappearance, which sort of left the Falmer as the winners by default.
- Spikes of Villainy: Their weapons, armor, chests, and huts are all very spiky. Justified in that they are made with Chaurus chitin, which is spiky to begin with.
- Take a Third Option: The Chantry of Auri-El was isolated enough that its presence remained unknown to the Nords, so the Snow Elves living there were able to survive without the Dwemer's "aid".
- The Tower: "Snow Throat" (aka the Throat of the World), the Tower of Skyrim, is believed to have played a part in originally attracting the Falmer to the region. After their near extinction, it would fall into the hands of the Atmorans/Nords.
- Was Once a Man: Whatever happened to the Falmer, it caused them to possess white souls. In other words souls of animals. That's right, the Falmer are no longer even sentient.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Whatever the Dwemer did to them, it changed their very souls from (sapient) black souls to white "creature" souls.
- Witch Species: Like the Altmer, the pre-mutation Falmer had exceptional natural aptitudes for magic.
- Worthy Opponent: Despite nearly driving the Falmer to extinction, Ysgramor and the Atmorans/Nords respected their leader, the Snow Prince, so they gave him a proper burial and guarded his tomb from grave robbers.
- Written by the Winners: They are losers to Ysgramor and the Nords. As part of destroying all traces of the Falmer culture in Skyrim that he could find, he also destroyed any evidence of anything that happened other than what his official histories record. For instance, he claims that the Falmer attack on Saarthal was unprovoked. However, surviving records of the Elves claim that the attack was in response to repeated "provocations and blasphemies" committed by the early Nords.
The elven inhabitants of Yokuda, also known as the Sinistral Mer, who fought a devastating war against the Yokudans that rendered them extinct, and any survivors are believed to have died with the sinking of the continent. It is suggested that they may have some sort of connection to the Maormer.
- A Sinister Clue: From the perspective of the Yokudans, since they warred with them and were mostly if not entirely left-handed.
- Arch-Enemy: To the Yokudans, who rendered them extinct.
- Our Elves Are Different: Their hat was that at least the majority, if not all, of their species was left-handed.
- Meaningful Name: As the Sinistral Mer. "Sinistra" is Latin for "left."
- Shrouded in Myth: All we know about them is that they were left-handed, probably connected to the Orichalc Tower of Yokuda, and that the Yokudans managed to render them extinct through war.
- The Southpaw: Their entire race was said to be left-handed.
- The Tower: Believed to be connected to the Orichalc Tower of Yokuda. After being driven to extinction at the hands of the ancient Yokudans, the Tower is believed to have plunged into the sea with the rest of Yokuda.
- Unperson: The Redguards do not speak about them for talking about them tends to "darken their days."
The Sea Elves of Pyandonea, a jungle continent to the south of Tamriel. They have battled with the Altmer for centuries, control sea serpents, and are said to be led by the "undying wizard king," Orgnum, who plays a central role in their origin story. He was a massively rich Aldmer nobleman, who used his wealth to rebel against the governments and powers of Aldmeris. His rebellion was eventually stomped out, and he and his followers were exiled from Aldmeris to the island continent of Pyandonea. They were forbidden to ever return, and it is said that they literally cannot, as an impenetrable veil of mist blocks them from Aldmeris.
Throughout the 1st and 2nd Eras, Orgnum would doggedly order assault after assault against Summerset, with himself leading the charge every time, to the point where there were scarcely a year where the Maormer didn't ravage some part of the island's coast. In spite of this, the curse placed on him and his followers held true throughout all of it, as every invasion attempt ended in failure.
The 3rd Era, however, saw the War of the Isle where Orgnum attempted an invasion of the continent of Tamriel in an alliance with Potema Septim, the Wolf Queen of Solitude. But a united alliance of the kings of Summerset, Emperor Antiochus Septim, and the Psijic Order succeeded in destroying the Pyandonean invading armada. The crushing defeat appeared to finally humble Orgnum and the Maormer. Orgnum has not since been able to muster together enough of a force to dare another battle, and there has not been any confirmed sighting of Maormer outside of Pyandonea after this point.
Maormer have milky-white eyes without irises and extremely pale skin, that has the ability to change colors, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings in a chameleon-like fashion.
- Animal Motif: Serpents, particularly vipers.
- Arch-Enemy: To the Altmer, and one of their oldest. Throughout the 1st and 2nd Eras, Maormer forces personally led by Orgnum were said to "ravage" the coastlines of the Summerset Isles.
- The Beastmaster: They practice a powerful form of "snake magic," which allows them to command and ride sea beasts.
- Chameleon Camouflage: They are said to possess this ability. It is so powerful that they can disappear by walking into the shade of a single tree.
- Cunning Linguist: When Orgnum met with Queen Potema to forge their alliance in the 3rd Era, he was said to have a translator who was fluent in all the languages of Tamriel, Pyandonea, Atmora, and Akavir.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: After thousands of years of raiding the coasts of southern Tamriel, especially the Summerset Isles, they allied with the "Wolf Queen" Potema in her bid to usurp the throne of the Septim Empire. The Maormer brought a massive fleet, but it was swallowed whole when the Psijic Order created a magical storm. The Maormer were so devastated that it is said they will never again be able to serious threaten Tamriel.
- Immortality: Their leader Orgnum is known as an "undying wizard king", though the exact kind he has is unknown. The Altmer claim that he is not immortal at all, but uses all sorts of foul magics to remain youthful.
- Our Elves Are Different: According to lore they have blank eyes and chameleon-like skin, can tame sea serpents, and are led by an undying wizard.
- Prophet Eyes: Maormer as seen in The Elder Scrolls Online, all have milky white, pupil-less eyes.
- The Unseen: They were not encountered in the series until Online, which depicted a few of them in the southern coastal settlements.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Altmeri legend holds that they were banished from and forbidden to return to Aldmeris after they attempted a rebellion. There is said to be a literal veil of mist that they cannot penetrate surrounding their former home.
The Pariah Elves of the Wrothgarian and Dragontail mountains on the border of High Rock and Hammerfell, commonly known as Orcs. They possess strong, muscular builds and green skin. They are known for their Hot-Blooded and rebellious nature, their ferocity, tenacity, and courage in battle, their ability to survive and even thrive in hash climates, to a degree where they are generally seen as an even match for the hardy Nords, as well as their skill as armorers and smiths (especially with the rare metal Orichalcum), making them some of the finest heavy infantry on all of Nirn.
The first Orcs were created when the Daedric Prince Boethiah devoured and later excreted the Aldmeri spirit Trinimac. Trinimac's remains became the Daedric Prince Malacath, while his Aldmeri followers were transformed into the Orcs. Malacath is the central figure and patron deity in Orcish religion, and in exchange for his blessing and protection, he bids the Orcs to honor him by displays of strength and courage in combat and endurance in the face of extreme hardship. Meanwhile, he reserves his wrath for Orcs who dishonor him through weak and cowardly acts.
Most outsiders see Orcs as savages; that their lives are short and filled with violence and misery, something not helped by Orcs historically being nefarious for heeding Malacath's call to battle by taking to Rape, Pillage, and Burn, and terrorizing the more "civilized" peoples of Tamriel as raiders and war bands. Other Elves, especially the Altmer, also tend to look down upon them, frequently questioning the idea that they are fellow Elves, claiming that they instead are more akin to Beastmen. But in spite of this bad reputation, larger gatherings of Orcs have throughout history proved quite capable of (relatively) peaceful coexistence with their neighbors, with many of them living out their thirst for fights and battle by serving as loyal soldiers in armies, most prominently the Imperial Legion. Several times, they've attempted to form their own city/state, Orsinium, literally "Orc Town". However, Orsinium has been razed and rebuilt several times — having been razed once again in the 4th Era — leaving many Orcs to eke out a living in destitute, dilapidated "strongholds" on the edges of society.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Malacath encourages tribal behavior within Orc communities, ensuring that the best warriors within a tribe are acting as chieftains. As shown by his quest in Skyrim, Malacath isn't above taking a more hands on approach when a weak Orc chieftain goes unchallenged by his tribe. (He sends Giants to attack their stronghold. Either the weak chief mans up and defeats them, another warrior steps up to overthrow the weak chief, or the tribe gets wiped out.)
- Beastess: While technically a sub-race of Mer, Orc females fit.
- The Blacksmith: From a young age they are taught to mine and smith, and are masters of the craft. Their heavy armors are some of the most sought after in Tamriel, for while they are rough, heavy, and generally ugly, they are incredibly durable.
- The Berserker: Orcs are natural berserkers, with an innate ability to trigger an Unstoppable Rage that significantly increases their abilities in melee combat.
- Blood Knight: Due to their strong warrior culture, Orcs generally live for battle. To them, if something isn't worth fighting for, it isn't worthy anything at all.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Downplayed. Like most races of Mer, they have practices and beliefs which, while not completely alien to normal human morality, are certainly within a different system of values. For example, when an Orc is becoming old and weak, he is encouraged to seek out a worthy foe to end his life. Likewise, if one sees that his chieftain is no longer fit to lead, it is considered his responsibility to challenge and defeat the chieftain in combat for his position, ensuring that the strongest Orc in a tribe serves as the leader.
- Butt-Monkey: The Orcs have long suffered this as a race. Their bestial appearance and "barbaric" culture (as it is perceived by the other races of Tamriel) make them frequent victims of Fantastic Racism. Several times the Orcs have tried to unite and create their own city-state known as Orsinium, but each time, their neighboring nations (the Bretons of High Rock and Redguards of Hammerfell) have forced them to abandon it. By the 4th Era, the Orcs were forced at swordpoint by the Bretons to officially renounce the kingdom of Orsinium and assimilate into High Rock as slaves in all but name. Only a few Orc tribes still live independently in destitute, scattered "strongholds", scorned by all.
- Iron Butt Monkey: They do take all their trials in stride, though, as Malacath teaches "strength through adversity". Indeed, part of their beliefs in their Warrior Heaven of the Ashen Forge involves an Orc who dies passing through a ritual in which the grudges, losses, betrayals, and broken promises they have suffered are melted out of them and reforged into the next generation of Orcs.
- Characterization Marches On: Originally, the Orcs were simple "hurr durr smash hoomies" Tolkein-style Orcs with nothing particularly noteworthy about them (they weren't even playable in Arena or Daggerfall). Beginning with Morrowind, however, their characterization has shifted massively. Rather than just being dumb, they'd been severely marginalized for ages — even their god reflected this. The Imperial Legion of Uriel VII's time, among other things, however, helped them to begin to properly integrate into the Empire better — thus making them playable.
- The Chosen People: Of the Daedric Prince Malacath, who provides a great example of how the deities of the series are subject to in-universe Alternative Character Interpretation depending on one's cultural lens. Considered a "Bad Daedra" by the Dunmer (and not considered much better by any other race), he is the patron and divine ancestor of the Orcish people.
- Citadel City: Orsinum, when it is built, is usually an example of this. The original Orsinium was so huge and so well-constructed that it took a combined Breton and Redguard army thirty years of continuous siege to crack it, with each major line of fortifications lasting a decade before they were finally taken. Later Orsiniums were not as ridiculously durable, but still were extremely difficult redoubts to capture.
- Culture Chop Suey:
- They draw from various classical "barbarian" cultures, known for raiding and pillaging their more "civilized" neighbors (at least from the perspective of those neighbors).
- Their lack of true surnames, instead using the name of their same-sex parent, draws from Mongolia. In Online, their clothing styles and architecture is also heavily Mongolian-styled.
- They have a social structure reminiscent of ancient Slavic tribes, with patrilinieal clans living in non-nomadic strongholds.
- Male clan-leading Orcs practice polygamy and are promised more wives in their afterlife (Malacath's Ashen Forge), which draws from Islam.
- As of the 4th Era, they have some traits of Native North American tribes. A once tribal people, who had their land stolen from them under threats of violence, and now live on (often barren) compounds remarkably similar to reservations.
- Death Seeker: Similar to the Nords, Orc culture sees glory in dying in battle. Unlike Nord culture though, dying in battle isn't just seen as a nice thing to have happen, but something an Orc is actively encouraged to seek out. Once an Orc elder feels that he is starting to weaken with age, they will often seek out someone (either within the tribe or outside of it) worthy enough to kill them in combat. Most Orc chieftains hope to die by the hands of a stronger successor, rather than old age.
- Duel to the Death: If an Orc senses that his chieftain is becoming weak, he is expected to challenge the chief in ritual combat to the death for his position. This ensures that the tribe will be led by the strongest Orc. A proper Orc chieftain, meanwhile, expects to be challenged at some point and to die in battle against his successor.
- Enslaved Elves: The truth is that the vast majority of Orcs live in the cities of other races and work regular jobs to justify their keep (usually as blacksmiths or mercenaries, but you also see the odd Orc bookshop owner once in a while). Those who don't live in destitute and isolated strongholds far out into the wilderness, akin to native American reservations. Every time the Orcs have tried to build their own free nation, the Bretons or Redguards saw it as a threat and nipped it in the bud.
- Face-Design Shield: Along with Rage Helm, this is the case for Orcish armor in Morrowind.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: They have generally harsh, traditionally "Orcish" sounding first names. Their surnames are the name of their same-sex parent, with "gro-" appended for male orcs and "gra-" appended for females. E.g. Yadba gro-Khash, Borba gra-Uzgash. In some cases, the surname is instead the name of the Orc's home stronghold (Ex. Burz gro-Kash is "Burz of Kash").
- Fantastic Racism: While they've been canonically established as a subrace of Mer, non-Orcs would rather believe they're one of the beastman races due to their perceived savagery. Strangely, this attitude has worked out in the Orc's favor; the rise of the Thalmor has led to an increase in general anti-Mer prejudice throughout Tamriel, but Orcs are generally exempt from it and no worse off than they would be otherwise.
- Fighting for a Homeland: Unlike other playable races, they don't have a lasting homeland. Orsinium was destroyed three times by Bretons and Redguards, and only recently rebuilt in the Fourth Era.
- Had to Be Sharp: The Orcs are extremely resilient and stubborn in battle, exactly because their history is full of them having to eke out a meager existence in rough and almost uninhabitable territories at the edge of civilization, surrounded on all sides by other races who were belligerent to them at best.
- HeelRace Turn: Following the Warp in the West, the Orcs were recognized as citizens of the Empire and Orsinium their capital. Prior to that, crossing over with Early Installment Weirdness, they were largely an Always Chaotic Evil random enemy Mook.
- Horned Humanoid: Skyrim and Online depict some orcs as having small bone-like spikes along their brow and forehead.
- I Am X, Son of Y: Traditional Orc names follow this structure, with the prefixes "gro" and "gra" meaning "son of" and "daughter of", respectively; when referring to a parent, a male orc will use his father's name as his last name, and a female will use her mother's. However it's not uncommon for them to use their place of birth as a last name in place of a parent's.
- Klingon Promotion: A Orc becomes chieftain by killing the current chieftain in ritual combat. This isn't primarily due to evil ambition, though. Orcs are encouraged to kill their chieftain if he is too old or too weak to continue to lead, thus ensuring that whoever leads is stronger than the leader he replaces and strong enough to lead the tribe.
- Martyrdom Culture: Many Orcs actively look for ways to die in battle. They feel that it pleases their patron deity, Malacath, for them to die in battle.
- Not So Different: The backstory of Orcs is somewhat similar to the Dunmer. Being changed from their golden skinned Aldmeri/Chimeri forms due to the actions of a Daedric Prince and being seen as automatically malevolent because they look threatening. Interestingly, most Orcs don't seem to resent their forms or Boethiah.
- Odd Friendship: Oddly enough with the Nords, as of the 4th Era. While the Nords typically despise all races of Mer (Elves), they've bonded somewhat with the Orcs over their mutual respect for strong leaders, affinity for smithing, and love of fighting. Following the sack of Orsinium, the (short-lived) Orc home province between High Rock and Hammerfell, Orcs have set up numerous strongholds dotting Skyrim where they are allowed to live in relative peace by the Nords.
- Our Orcs Are Different:
- Leans toward the Blizzard Orc archetype since they are still a subrace of Mer. Due to their Mer heritage despite their brutish appearance and tribal customs, in terms of brute strength the Nords are still physically stronger than Orcs (Though Orcs are more durable and can enter a berserker rage, doubling their strength). However, the Orcs make up for it with being incredibly skilled weapon/armor crafters (they gain bonuses for Smithing and Enchanting skills).
- Interestingly, of all of the races in Tamriel, the Orcs bear the strongest similarities to the Dwarfs of Warhammer, being incredibly skilled smiths and warriors with advanced technology who tend to prefer to live in mountainous terrain, and who hold grudges to be sacred. Their afterlife is even known as the Ashen Forge.
- Pig Man: The Orcs are derogatorily referred to as "Pig Children" by the other races. Aside from their bestial features and tusks, they have no relation to actual pigs.
- Promoted to Playable: In Morrowind. Before that, they were generic enemies in Arena and, while they got some characterization that pushed them toward "Blizzard Orcs" in Daggerfall, they were not yet playable.
- Proud Warrior Race: Something that makes them Not So Different from Nords and Redguards. Falling in combat to a superior opponent to end one's life is not only encouraged, but expected. Their entire society is geared around endurance and struggle against an unfair world, and they take pride in living in harsh, utilitarian strongholds far from society.
- Revenge Before Reason: Strangely inverted; Orsimer hold grudges to be sacred, and their version of Warrior Heaven supposedly involves the dead Orc passing through a "ritual of tempering" in which every grudge that they bore in life is burned out of them, melted down, and reforged into the next generation of Orcs so they can continue those grudges, with particularly potent grudges being kept and sent down to other Orc smiths to be forged into new weapons and armor. Indeed, it is believed that the collecting of grudges, betrayals, and broken promises is what helps an Orc to properly reach the Ashpit and the Ashen Forge so they can begin their immortal lives, which is appropriate for a people who follow the Daedric Prince of the spurned and the outcast.
- Stone Wall: Not as physically strong as the Nords or as skilled with large weapons, but the Orcs are without doubt the best users of heavy armor in the setting and get the highest bonuses to their heavy armor skill. Thus, they are able to endure a level of punishment that would have killed anyone else dozens of times over. The Septim Empire specifically recruited Orcs to serve as elite heavy infantry in their Legions, and their success in this role helped them to become more accepted throughout the empire.
- Unstoppable Rage: They have an innate ability to trigger a berserker rage, increasing their skill in melee combat.
- Warrior Heaven: They have one known as the Ashen Forge. It is part of the Daedric realm of Malacath, known as the Ashpit. It is also said that the Ashpit stretches endlessly across the planes, extending even behind the stars to Aetherius, granting access to every worthy Orc who crosses from this life into the next. Entering it brings immortality, abundant food and drink, and of course, many great battles. It is said that every Orc is a chief, every chief has a thousand wives, and every wife has a thousand slaves to cater to their every need.
- Worthy Opponent: Orcs are expected to find a strong and worthy foe to die against, ideally before they become weak and feeble. Chieftains in particular wish to die to a strong and worthwhile successor, in order for the tribe to continue being ruled over by the strongest Orc. When it is time for them to die, many Orcs simply go out into the wilderness and find foes to fight against until something comes along that can give them a glorious death.
Not too long after the genesis of the Orcs, some early Orc tribes emigrated to Valenwood. Over the centuries since, these tribes has adapted to life in the dense forested areas, to the point where they have dividered considerably from their mountain dwelling kin, mostly culturally, but also in some physiological ways, to a point where they more resemble the Bosmer in some aspects.
Though Wood Orcs still worship Malacath and live by his principles, and therefore prize strength and honor above all else, their interpretation of what those things mean is one of the main things that separates them from their northern cousins. Most notably, and true to their habitat, they consider agility and mobility as much a strength as they do raw power and endurance.
- Competition Freak: Wood Orcs essentially use competition as form of greeting, having been known to insist on challenge guests wandering into their territories to activities such as footraces and barefisted brawls before any actual conversation can take place.
- Does Not Like Magic: Visitors are discouraged from casting magic in their presence, as they are highly distrustful of it, believing that its primary function is the oppression of their people.
- Fragile Speedster: They have elements of it; they are not quite as strong and enduring as their northern brethren, but they compensate by being much more agile and swift, and they are noted to fight with the same ferocity as them.
- Proud Warrior Race: Like the other Orcs, they still firmly wear this as their hat, although due to their habitat it takes on other forms. Most notably, they tend to indiscriminately attack anyone who tries to hide in the trees of their territories on sight, as they equate secret movement with malevolence and cowardice.