The Elder Scrolls
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The Elder Scrolls is a vidya series, and the setting of five main games and a number of spinoffs. Despite being a vidja, it is considered a type II game.
Its canon is notoriously unstable and intentionally 'postmodern'. Long story short: imagine every canon clusterfuck 40K has ever experienced, only there are no editions to draw a neat line between lore changes. And on at least one occasion, time has been known to break in order to allow simultaneous mutually exclusive outcomes. You know how in 40K everything is canon, but not everything is necessarily true? Here, nothing is canon and everything is true, especially when it contradicts itself, so histories are intentionally interpretive and unreliable.
- 1 Setting
- 2 Gods, Deities and other important people
- 3 Races
- 4 Games
- 5 Gallery
- 6 See also
The games mainly take place in Tamriel, a continent consisting of nine separate lands. After being buttfucked by the Ayleid for several centuries, humanity rises up and overthrow their elven overlords, and took control themselves. Then, a few thousand years later, a man named Tiber Septim steps up and leads his armies to conquer all of Tamriel to found the Third Empire of Cyrodiil. But instead of exterminating all the elves and beast races, they were allowed to co-exist with the other races and a time of prosperity began, ending with the death of Emperor Jean-Luc Picard the 7th, and Mehrunes Dagon then began to fuck his way from Oblivion into Tamriel, starting a chain of events that resulted in him being kicked back into hell by the Emperor's lost son, Sean Bean.
Being Sean Bean meant he died in the process, and without an Emperor the Empire began to crumble. The Aldmeri Dominion (think Ayleid 2.0) sensed their weakness and began a war to subjugate the lesser races. The Empire only barely managed to stop them, and a tense cease-fire is currently in effect. The fluff of this series, unfortunately, suffers greatly from dissonance between written background and shown foreground due to all the shit mentioned in the intro.
There's also a bunch of other weird cosomology crap involved, but it's all kind of trippy and kind of in a grey area when it comes to canon. Don't think too much about it, unless you're into that. The setting works if you don't care for it, and it works if you do. The games themselves don't acknowledge the "deeper" lore outside some in-game books and a few references thrown in some main-story dialogue.
If you do want to read on some of the (possibly) weirdest, at times incomprehensible, yet at times original without being ~~subversive because we can~~ lore ever written, click to open.
Creation of the world
Listen to this. This is the main theme of Morrowind, the third game in the series. It also contains the history of the cosmology of The Elder Scrolls. Listen to it, because it's a damn fine tune. But as you listen to it, you might realise there are no spoken words in this music. So how can it tell the history of a setting? Well, sit that five-dollar ass of yours down before I make change.
Long ago there was an entity who had fallen deeply in love, but his brother loved the same person, so he out of jealousy killed his loved one. That brought such distress to him that he fell into a coma of sorts, he "hid in a sun" and started dreaming. Thus he became The Godhead. From his dreams sprung Anu and Padomay, Stasis and Change. These "brothers" (the term used in the loosest sense here, solely on being related but different forces) accidentally created Nir, Grey maybe, personification of creation itself. But Padomay grew jealous of the relationship between Anu and Nir and out of spite decided to break her. Nir was killed and Creation was shattered, maimed for ever. Anu then fought Padomay and they were cast out of time forever, even though they still exist and will always exist as long as there is Order and Chaos. You might have thought to yourself, "Didn't that happen twice?", yes it did. Everything in the Dream mimics original Godhead and his mind, everything comes from it. In this case Anu was avatar of the Dreamer while Padomay represented Godheads brother and Nir their shared love. Same scenario of two mirror brothers, one being force of Stasis, The King and one being force of Change, The Rebel always repeats. The souls or core concepts of Anu and Padomay on which all of creation runs are called, Anui-El (IS) and Sithis (IS NOT).
Eventually from endless energies and "blood" of Anu and Padomay came the Et'ada (Et'ada means original spirit, while Ada means just generally any spirit), each representing different idea and concepts. Et'ada tended to categorize themselves with Anu or Padomay. Auri-El, Kyne and other Et'ada who lean more towards Order are Anuic while more chaotic ones like Mehrunes Dagon or Molag Bal are more Padomaic. Later after creation of realms those who were Anuic became Aedra, which means "our ancestor" in Ehlnofex, because Aedra took part in creation of the world we usually visit in TES games, while those Padomaic spirits who did not take part in creation and created their own solo realms became Daedra, which translates to "not our ancestor" (though that was not always the case, Jyggalag for example is a Daedra, but he is clearly Anuicly aligned.)
In the Dawn Era, time, in the shape of Akatosh (Ara, Auriel, Auri-El Tosh'Raka, AKHAT; take your pick), was non-linear. It flowed freely wherever it wanted, without direction, form of shape. In this temporal soup floated the souls of the proto-Mer. Think pea soup, except with millions of Ada of all sorts instead of peas. Time, in this form, was a single point. It was called the Ur-Tower, Ada-Mantia. Except it was not really a point or a tower, but more of a sound.
Bom. (0:00 to 0:01 of the song)
The Et'Ada saw it, and it was good. Except for one. A being born from Padomay who wanted no name, but eventually came to be first known as Lorkhan (LKHAN, Shor, Sep, Shezarr, maybe even Shepard). Having little interest with the rest of the Et'Ada's activities, or more likely inactivity, he spent his time wandering the Aurbis (all of existence), eventually coming to the very edge. He saw the universe, shaped like a wheel with eight spokes. Then he looked at the wheel from another perspective, and it looked like a Tower, a perfect line. An I.
This was his first word, and he would never, ever forget it. He understood everything right then and there, all of creation and its true nature was revealed to him.
Wanting to share this revelation with the other Ada but knowing that none of them would be able to comprehend it as they were, he came up with a plan for a creation and showed it to Magnus, The Grand Architect. Magnus went along with the plan and recruited the help of the Et'ada that we know as Aedra today: Akatosh, Dibella, Julianos, Kynareth, Mara, Stendarr, Zenithar and many other lesser spirits that you probably never heard of to serve as the basis of their creation. Except that they did not know this last part, Lorkhan had fooled them. Their divinity was drained into the creation, or re-creation of long shattered Nir, Nirn was born. When they discovered they were tricked the Et'Ada were not amused. Magnus buggered off into infinity along with his servants, tearing through the edge of Mundus and creating The Sun and The Stars in the process...yeah, everything you see in sky is a giant non euclidean portal to realm of infinite energy, the original crib of Et'ada, The Aetherius. Others gave Lorkhan his due: Trinimac tore his heart out and Auriel(Elven aspect of Akatosh) shot it out over the sea, where it landed in a spot and created a crater that would gain the moniker "Red Mountain". The halves of Lorkhan's body became the moons Masser and Secunda, the last visible remnants of a corpse god. But this was just as planned, throughout the whole thing the Heart of Lorkhan was laughing at them like a maniac, because Red Mountain was Red Tower, the second Tower, and the beat of his heart would be added to the sound of Akatosh. His Heart would become the prison for The Dragon God of Time.
Bom bom. (0:01 to 0:07 of the song)
This completely, utterly and irrevocably buttfucked spacetime. Because there now was a second point in existence, time could no longer flow anywhere it wanted and had to flow from Akatosh to Lorkhan. With time becoming linear, Nirn could start to grow. Aedra were drained and "dying", so they had to reproduce, create worshipers or someone that could sustain them. Slowly Ehlnofey, the "Earth Bones", Ada of all forms and shapes, some descendants of crazy reproduction, started popping up. Some created simple truths and laws for Nirn, for example gravity, others reproduced more, creating less energized spirits that slowly stabilized in different ways, slowly becoming mortal. They are ancestors of Humans (Men) and Elves (Mer). These Ehlnofey fortified their borders from the chaos outside, hid their pocket of calm, and attempted to live on as before. Other Ehlnofey arrived on Nirn scattered amid the confused jumble of the shattered worlds, wandering and finding each other over the years. Eventually, the wandering Ehlnofey found the hidden land of Old Ehlnofey, and were amazed and happy to find their kin and a comfy place, built by them. The wandering Ehlnofey expected to be welcomed into the peaceful realm, but the Old Ehlnofey being arrogant douchebags, refused to accept their kin. Anywho, war broke out between them and raged across the whole of Nirn and sunk large part of planet in ocean. Old Ehlofney (the asshole ones), who primarly lived in Tamriel, became Elves (gee, you didn't expect that, did you?), while their kin on other continents became Humans (Yokudans, Atmorans and Akaviri/Tsaesci).
Bom bom. (0:07 to 0:39 of the song)
The Mer, one of the first to mortalize were not not pleased by this. They blamed Lorkhan for their predicament, naming him the Doom Drum, bringer of mortality, death and the herald of all misfortune. But they made the best out of the situation, and the races of Mer prospered. New Towers came into existence, one by one: Walk-Brass Tower, White-Gold Tower, Snow-Throat Tower, Crystal-Like-Law, Orchalc, Khajit and Tree-Sap.
Bom bom. (0:39 to 1:19 of the song)
But, as time went on (something new back then), more and more happened. New peoples stood up. Empires were founded and fell. The races of Men were discovered, the beast races prospered, and the Empires of Men were founded.
Bom bom. (1:19 to 1:42 of the song)
Yet nothing is eternal. The Thalmor, the ruling faction of the High Elves, desires nothing less than the destruction of the Doom Drum and all of creation so time once again becomes non-linear, mortality would get destroyed and they could return their eternal soup-floating. Removing Lorkhan would stop the music of existence, and everything once again becomes singular.
Bom bom. Bom. (1:42 to 1:55 of the song)
And then... silence.
On the importance of Towers
For every Tower there is a Stone, an artifact that can be used to activate or deactivate a Tower. For Ada-Mantia Tower this is the Moment of Creation itself (making it rather difficult to obtain), for Red Tower this is the Heart of Lorkhan and for White-Gold Tower this is the Amulet of Kings. The Towers serve many purpose besides keeping spacetime from becoming a massive alinear clusterfuck. What is this? Well, it's easier for you to do it yourself that for me to explain. Make yourself a print of the map of Tamriel further down on this page. Then get yourself a pin board and a black, a red, two brown, three white, and two green tacks. Put the map against the pinboard and do the following:
- Put the white tacks through the map in the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, the Throat of the World slightly south-east of Whiterun in Skyrim, and Crystal Tower in the Summerset Isles (northern part, west of King's Watch). (White-Gold, Snow-Throat and Crystal-Like-Law)
- Put the green tacks in Yokuda (exact location unknown) and in Valenwood (somewhere in the middle). (Orchalc and Tree-Sap)
- Put the brown tacks in Daggerfall (southernmost tip of High Rock) and in Elsweyr (again in the middle). (Walk-Brass and Khajiit)
- Put the red tack in the middle of Vvardenfell in Morrowind. (Red)
- Put the black tack on the little island deep in the Iliac Bay near High Rock. (Ata-Mantia)
That's the locations of the Towers that keep time flowing. All's fine and dandy with those holding the world together, right? Wrong! Some have been destroyed or deactivated over the course of time; three times, this was done by the player. Whoops. Remove the following:
- Red Tower (deactivated in Morrowind by you)
- White-Gold Tower (deactivated in Oblivion by you)
- Crystal Tower (destroyed in Oblivion by the Daedra)
- Khajiit Tower (Their leader, the Mane was killed, likely assassinated by Thalmor. S/He was also known as the Mane Moon which appeared when Secunda and Masser overlap)
- Tree-Sap Tower (both located in Thalmor territory, likely deactivated)
- Orichalc Tower (destroyed along with Yokuda)
Snow-Throat Tower is very much active (but damaged), but its Stone is an unknown cave. Ata-Mantia Tower remains active, and its stone, the "zero stone" is the physical manifestation of a meeting the Aedra had to discuss how to punish Lorkhan for his role in the creation. Walk-Brass Tower is very much active, but somehow it is "besieging reality well into the Fifth Era", meaning that it's in the future yet somehow active. Which is not a bad thing, since Walk-Brass tower is a fuckhueg robot that has a nasty habit of fucking Time so hard it breaks. So yeah, the only things standing between Tamriel and the primordial time-grog are a mountain, a meeting, and one of the Void Dragon's action figures. Unless, of course, Akavir and\or Pyandonea would be revealed to host their own Towers, which is likely since certain prominent rulers of both lands somehow managed to achieve godhood, something that Towers are very helpful at.
Removing the Tower-Tacks has another side effect: the veil between Nirn and Oblivion becomes thinner. At the time of Oblivion it had even grown so thin that the Daedra could slip into this realm on their own accord. So your actions in Morrowind partially caused the Oblivion Crisis. Way to go, champ. And what happens if you remove all the tacks? Right, your map falls off the pin board, Mundus falls into Oblivion.
Thalmor, who often claim the need to deactivate all Towers, don't really need that. Their main goal is the biggest and newest anchor of existence, Talos (essentially Lorkhan 2.0), hence why they try to ban his worship so hard and unmake him. Thalmor want him and all of mankind to be gone, believing their extermination necessary to unmake the Mundus.
How to Break your Dragon (Or Jump Your Shark)
You might have heard the phrase "Dragon Break" (both words capitalized) a few times. Simply put, this means cock-slapping Time so hard it breaks and becomes non-linear for a while. But not just any cock-slap, oh no. This is the hard part: Imagine a dick if you will. A really big dick (no, this does not make you gay
unless you imagine balls touching). So big in fact, that even Long Dick Johnson would say "That's a big fucking dick". Right, you see it? The biggest fucking dick your feeble mind could comprehend? Good.
Now, imagine if you will, Time. How you do this is up to you: causality, a linear progression of cause and effect, floaty magic thingies, sand, a clock, perhaps even a more anthropomorphic presentation in the shape of a loli or a cute monstergirl. Right. Now take the dick and slap Time in the face. Cockslap it so hard that time itself just outright breaks and loses its linearity. This is a Dragon Break. The name itself is derived from the notion that the Linearity of Time is Akatosh, who is a dragon. Hence if you break time, you "Break the Dragon". While inside a Dragon Break time is perceived to pass normally, but when one exits it might appear that a lot more or less time than you observed has passed in the rest of the world.
The first known Dragon Break occurred near the end of the Dragon War, where a trio of Nords confronted Alduin the World-Eater, First-Born and Aspect of Akatosh that personifies the End of Time (meaning that somehow he was his own father), the leader of the dragons. The Nords created a localized Dragon Break to fling Alduin into the future so that he wasn't their problem anymore. Mind you, they had no idea where the stuff they shunted was actually going; they just knew it disappeared things, and decided that making Alduin someone else's problem was as good as killing him, essentially causing (or at least amplifying) all the problems in the 4th Era out of laziness. What a bunch of dicks.
The second known Dragon Break happened during the Battle of Red Mountain, where the First Council of the Chimer went to war with the Dwemer. The Dwemer were working on a giant golem they called Numidium. However, it had one minor design flaw: every time someone pushed the "ON" switch it fucked the dragon right up the butt, no lube. This allowed for the multiple truths on the events that transpired on Red Mountain: Ayem, Seht and Vehk stood by their friend Nerevar as he succumbed to his wounds. Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec murdered their Hortator (war-leader) Nerevar. Ayem Seht Vehk = Almalexia Sotha Sil Vivec = ALMSIVI. Everything is true, nothing is correct.
The third suspected Dragon Break occurred during the time of the Alessian Empire, when Saint Alessia freed Man from the slavery of their Mer rulers (think of her as a booby Sigmar). A cult of the Alessian Order known as Marukhati, lead by monkey man Marukh. wanted to exorcise the aspects of Auriel from Akatosh, basically substracting the Elf from the Dragon. This is said to have resulted in a thousand-and-eight year Dragon Break and might have resulted in creating more Dragon aspects than just Auri-El and Akatosh. But some claim that this was little more than a fuckup of the scholars and historians of the time.
The fourth known Dragon Break took place when Tiber Septim unleashed Numidium on the Khajiit of Elsweyr. This included the subjugation of Elsweyr, Valenwood and eventually the Summerset Isles. Tiber Septim threatened to activate it again and have it wreck the Aldmeri Dominion, but they liked their assholes to only be violated by one another, so they too stood down. It has been recorded that Numidium was then used to destroy hostile royal families to replace them with the Emperor's puppets, likely by having it step on them.
The fifth and currently final known Dragon Break occurred during the events of Daggerfall, where it was turned on in the Iliac Bay. But because of the nature of Numidium fucking space-time a new lovehole when it activates (hence, "turned on"), a number of the states in the region obtained the "FUCK EVERYTHING" button of Numidium and pressed it at the same time. Two days of hilarity later, everyone conquered one another until the Empire ended as top dog and everyone swore fealty to the Empire. Because of the events surrounding the activation of the Dragon Break, Numidium disappeared and fell into the future, where it still stands as Walk-Brass Tower.
When the Dragon Breaks happen, Akatosh deploys the Jill to fix time so that everything does not fall apart. These minute-menders (akin to angels) tend to take the form of great wyrms who fly around and fix the little bits of time with the power of their Voice (i.e.: they shout at holes in space-time until they bitch down). If this sounds familiar to you... it is! Jills are female Dragons, while Drakes are the male ones; Dragons can't really reproduce and are born of Time/Akatosh, but it's more of a conceptual thing, with Jills having the concept of healing while Drakes have the concept of Domination. So yeah, Dragons you kill, fight, kill and soul-rob to increase your own unholy power are actually servants and minor aspects of Akatosh. So in other words, you have been killing the heralds of a new era.
...Or at least you would be if they were actually doing what they were supposed to do - as it turns out, some time before that first Dragon Break Alduin, who is also aspect of Akatosh himself decided that he would rather rule over the broken bits of time himself, and the dragons are bound to obey him without question. It's not certain if he did it because he knew that he wouldn't get to eat the world this time around or if he just felt like ruling the world instead of resetting it. So all of reality is increasingly fucked and the only beings who can fix it stopped giving a shit a long time ago. Gods plotting against themselves is fairly common in TES since most of the Gods are broken and crazy with tons of split personalities.
There is also the whole issue of Aka-Tusk, or simply Aka. Apparently all the Dragon Aspects of time at one point or another were Great Dragon God of Time known as Aka-Tusk, but got broken and shed millions of times, maybe even before the Marukhati Dragonbreak. We may never know because Dragonbreaks are usually at least partially retroactive.
And then there is the whole issue of Akatosh and Lorkhan being one being and Akatosh being trapped in Heart of Lorkhan literally. This timey wimey bullshit is really getting out of hand.
CHIM: Or "You took HOW MUCH LSD!?
That muffled explosion you just heard was caused by a number of people exploding out of sheer rage. Sit tight, because this shit is meta wrapped in an enigma inside a mindfuck.
In Morrowind you can find a series of books titled the 36 Sermons of Vivec. If you pick them up and read them at face value they might appear as parts of a religious text, filled with metaphors, truths twisted throughout the ages, and copious amounts of buttfucking (no, seriously). In these books you will find several references to CHIM, The Tower, and The Ruling King. Now, early on in the books Vivec is shown as the teacher of Lord Indoril Nerevar (more on him below), yet Nerevar does not understand the lessons. Because he was not the intended student. Instead, these lessons were meant for you. Not only for your player character, but for you, the player. For if one attains CHIM, one's physical form becomes a mere avatar of the self.
But now you may wonder, what the Charles fucking Dickens *is* CHIM?
Imagine if you will, a great wheel with eight spokes. The wheel is everything that exists: Aurbis. The hub is Nirn, the world that the series takes place on. The spokes are the Aedra, the
Nine Eight Divines. The space between the spokes is Oblivion, where the Daedra reside. Mundus encompasses both Nirn, its moons and the realms of the Aedra. Now, if you were to turn the wheel 90 degrees, you'd be looking at the rim of the wheel so it resembles I (as in, the thin side of a disk). This is the Tower, the Secret of Aurbis, holder of the secret. CHIM. The wheel is the entire universe. Outside there exist only two forces: Anu and Padhome, stasis and change. Think a great void filled with only two bubbles: there where these bubbles touch exists the wheel. Now, the Tower is not something physical, but an ideal. Something that can be attained, conquered, stolen. For one to reside within the tower, is to know the truth of all that is. This was the revelation of Lorkhan's that made him want to create Nirn.
This truth is that everything is a dream. The supreme power in TES is the Godhead, the unknown creator of all. Everything, Aurbis, Anu, and Padomay - all created in the dreams of the Godhead. Attaining CHIM is to know this, the relentless alien terror that is God and your place in it. Everything you know, are and do is but a dream. Now, if you discover this one of two things can happen. The most common one is to realize you do and don't exist at the same time: you lose your individuality (you zero-sum) and become one with the dreamer, the Godhead, and you disappear in the proverbial puff of logic. The second option is the rare one: to realize that you are part of the Godhead, you *are* the Godhead. If everything is an extension of the same thing, and that the thing can reshape reality with a thought, being a dreamer within the dream.
If you thought that shit was meta, just you wait. The principles behind CHIM can be taken further to mean that the Godhead and its dreams are a metaphor for the computer running the game and the game itself. In-universe the metaphor of the godhead and being awake within the dream is needed to prevent characters who realize this from zero-summing out of existence at the resulting paradox. It can be inferred that a character who achieves CHIM essentially gains access to the console and the Construction Set. Talos used the Construction Set to retcon Cyrodiil from a jungle land into a generic European fantasy land (Talos has a terrible imagination). Vivec gave himself levitation abilities by using the console to erase the texture file for his chair (no seriously). Whether or not the player achieves CHIM varies. Generally when a player becomes fully immersed in the game, they do not have CHIM. However, a player who gets fed up of getting bugged by cliff racers every five seconds and installs a mod that removes them from the game is using CHIM. They are remembering that the world they are in is a game and altering it as they see fit. Exploits, mods, console commands, etc can all be explained in-universe as the player character achieving CHIM and using it to reshape reality or bend its rules... or all of that could be stupid speculation.
Meta as FUCK.
You can go deeper than that and find Amaranth though, but that is whole another level of mindfuck.
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine
We've mentioned a few times that the world of Nirn is slowing being destroyed by a few reasons. In a normal fantasy setting, this would be a terrible thing, and the hero must try and stop it; however, the Elder Scrolls isn't a normal fantasy setting. One of the dragons, Paarthurnax, mentions that when the world ends, Alduin, the first born of Akatosh, will/might simply recreate it, thus returning it to the point of creation. Granted he also states liking the current one is a good enough reason to fight Alduin (that and the fact that Alduin is an absolute prick who would rather rule over the broken remains of the old one instead of actually doing his job).
This is due to the Kalpic nature of Nirn; Kalpa is the time span from Convention to the end of the world, one turn of a wheel. Eventually, Alduin The World Eater grows in size and literally eats the world, turns the Kalpa like a wheel and everything resets back to the Convention, the moment when Heart of Lorkhan was torn out, time became linear. From that point on things can go differently in different Kalpas; for example, according to Seven Flights of Aldudagga, one Kalpa had Molag Bal as its ruler and Dreughs as the supreme race. That being said, it is possible to end the Kalpic cycle and destroy shit for good, hence what the Thalmor are trying to do. They also believe that this will make them Ada (Spirit/God) again.
In essence, the world might be ending, few care and fewer understand, and Elder Scrolls lore is more complicated than trying to keep track of the number of penises Slaanesh has at the moment.
Remember way at the beginning of this page, we said that how crazy the Elder Scrolls series is depends on if you take an ex-writer's blogposts as gospel? Well, if you don't, and only trust what you see in-game, it looks a bit like this.
The Godhead almost certainly doesn't exist. Neither does CHIM. Only two in-game sources claim it does; one is a colossal liar and the other is shown to be wrong about absolutely everything that comes out of his mouth. They're both bugfuck nuts and they both end up dead at your hands. The big historical event allegedly caused by CHIM could easily not have been. At least two alternate theories have been suggested: either the event never actually took place and was the result of a transcription error, which is boring, or the White-Gold Tower did it on its own after humans booted the elves from the Imperial City and moved in, which is not. Speaking of, the Tower thing is definitely true, because the plot of Oblivion is, broadly, that the bad guy shut one down and tore reality a new asshole. The Dragonbreak is an empirical event that happens within living memory; in Oblivion you can read the Imperial report on what the fuck happened in the last one, and you can see one happen in Skyrim. The kalpa thing is definitely happening, and you hear as much directly from the mouth of a time-spirit who knew Alduin personally. You meet Pelinal Whitestrake's ghost in a DLC questline, and he doesn't seem to be a robot, or even remotely crazy.
Mantling deserves special mention, even though it hasn't been mentioned anywhere else on the page. Basically, by adopting the mannerisms and vestments of something else, you become that something else. In a word: apotheosis. You mantle a daedric prince at the end of Shivering Isles, and use your new divine powers to kick the ass of another daedric prince. Have we mentioned that these games are really, really good and you should play them? SI also added the caveat that whatever you're mantling has to be either dead or gone in a big way for you to pull it off, and you're basically filling in its place in the universe.
Gods, Deities and other important people
Most of the Gods in The Elder Scrolls are Et'Ada, the "original spirits" that came from the interplay of Anu and Padomay. These spirits later depending on their alignment with creation got categorized into Aedra and Daedra, if you took part in creation of Nirn you are Aedra, if you were egotistic dick and went to Oblivion to make your small shitty realm, you are Daedra.
- The Godhead: Everything in the setting is all just the the godhead's dream, if you believe all of the weird lore. Fully comprehending this fact will either cause you to lose your sense of individuality and disappear, or give you the ability to change the world around you like a lucid dreamer, or cause you to exit the universe and create your own. Anu and Padomay are the godhead's first creations.
- Anu: The personification of light, life, stasis, and order. Rarely is worshiped due to his lack of personality, but most religions acknowledge his existence. Hardly does anything because he removed himself and Padomay from reality to stop Padomay from causing more destruction.
- Padomay: The personification of darkness, death, change, and chaos. In the beginning of the universe he attacked Anu and the spilled blood of the two became new gods. While very unpopular among normal folks, he's considered the patron of the Dark Brotherhood assassins. Some vampires and even regular Argonians are known to worship him as well. Evil worshipers of Padomay prefer to call him by the more evil sounding name Sithis.
The Aedra (Our ancestors in Aldmeris) are Et'Ada of Anuic origin. Many of them took part in the creation of Nirn, during which they "died", their essences fused together into Mundus. As such they do not have "physical" forms like the Daedra have. Yet their spirits live on in Nirn: as the Gods of the world they live in every part of it. While not as "focused" as their Daedric counterparts they are more widespread, worshiped and give their blessings and artifacts more freely than the Daedra, plus they have control over one realm that everyone wants to have - Nirn.
Eight of the Aedra are worshipped in Tamriel as the Eight Divines (along with the human god-hero Tiber Septim, aka. Talos, to make the more assonant Nine Divines), a fusion of the old Nordic pantheon and the Aedra worshipped by the Ayleids:
- Akatosh: Also known as Auri-El to the Altmer, Alkosh to the Khajiit, and the father of the dragons, the chief deity of the Eight and the top god of the Cyrodiilic Empire as he represents duty, legitimacy, endurance and obedience (but his different identities also have additional roles. Akatosh proper is the god of time, but Auri-El is the god of the sun, which it is worth noting can be used as a timekeeping device. All the other gods also work like this, as Divinity in this setting is weird). His artifacts are Auriel's Bow, and Auriel's Shield, which have completely different powers depending which game you are playing. In the Skyrim Dawnguard DLC, the bow infuses arrows fired from it with the power of the sun to do more damage to the undead, and the Shield can absorb energy from attacks it blocks and release it as wave similar to the Unrelenting Force shout.
- Arkay: Lord of the Wheel of Life, master of life and death, burials and funeral rites. Arkay's priests are some of the fiercest necromancer hunters around, as those foul practices are an affront to their god.
- Dibella: Goddess of beauty, affection and the carnal and sexual aspects of love, as well as art and music. Effectively Nirn's equivalent of Aphrodite. She teaches that, "No matter the seed, if the shoot is nurtured with love, will not the flower be beautiful?" Oh boy. Her artifact is the Brush of Truepaint, which can turn a canvas into a portal to a world made of paint that the artist creates with their imagination.
- Julianos: God of wisdom and logic; literature, lore, history and contradiction are the domains of Julianos. Though Magnus is the god of magic, many wizards worship Julianos. The scholarly Bretons also hold a particular reverence for him. Monastic orders dedicated to Julianos are the keepers of the Elder Scrolls.
- Kynareth: Goddess of heavens, winds and the elements. Known as Kyne among the Nords and the widow of Shor. It is said that Kyne gifted men with the Thu'um so they could harness the power of dragons and save themselves from Akatosh's errant children. Her artifact is the Lord's Mail, a cuirass that grants its wearer healing, magicka absorption, and the ability to cure their self of poison.
- Mara: Goddess of agriculture, compassion, fertility, and the more romantic aspects of love. She is the one deity that is recognised by every culture on Tamriel. Among the Nords, Mara is Kyne's handmaiden and Shor's bit on the side. Among the Altmer, Bosmer and Bretons, Mara is the wife of Akatosh/Auri-El. Among the now extinct Kothringi of Black Marsh, Mara was just one of three aspects to an older Mother goddess with Kynareth and Dibella as the other two aspects. As said above, Divinity in this setting is weird. Whatever the case, weddings in Tamriel are overseen by priests of Mara.
- Stendarr: God of mercy, charity and justice. Apologist of men and patron deity of the Imperial Legion and many Breton knightly orders. Stendarr welcomes heretics, the afflicted, hopeless and forgotten just as readily as his devout followers. However his mercy ends at the enemies of mortals, the abhorrent and unnatural. Stendarr's priests are often hunters of lesser Daedra, lycanthropes, vampires and undead. Real bro-tier god overall. His artifact is Stendarr's Hammer, a hammer that increases the user's stamina and does incredible damage, but is also very fragile and far too heavy for a mortal to use.
- Zenithar: God of honest work and commerce. The "almighty dollar" taken to the end conclusion. Very strong ties to the people of Cyrodiil, and many in High Rock and Hammerfell too.
- Talos: NOT actually an Aedra, but worth mentioning as he is often placed among the other Eight. Talos, known in life as Tiber Septim and Ysmir to the Nords, is the greatest god-hero of mankind. He conquered all of Tamriel and ushered in the Third Empire of Cyrodiil at the end of the Second Era. When he died, his spirit supposedly ascended to godhood (and a quest in Oblivion lends support to this). As of the Fourth Era, Talos worship is banned in the Empire as per the terms of the White-Gold Concordat made with the Dominion, because the idea of a man becoming a god pisses the stupid sparkly prisses off to no end. That, and it is also likely that Talos is helping to hold the world together, and the Thalmor know this and want to starve him of worship, effectively destroying all Nirn to regain the divinity Lorkhan is said to have stolen from them. Fucking elves. Although worshipped mainly by the Nords during the 4th Era, his race is unknown, but he was most likely a Breton.
The Altmer also worship, or at least acknowledge, other Aedra that don't belong to the Eight Divines above, but are worshipped in most elven lands, these being:
- Jephre: The god of songs and forests and the spirit of Now, also called Y'ffre. He was one of the first spirits to become Ehlnofey, or Earth Bones, and set in place the rules of nature and life on Nirn. The Bosmer consider him their main god and he's the reason they're carnivores and cannibals.
- Lorkhan: The Creator-Trickster-Tester god present in every race's mythology. Known alternatively as Lorkhaj, Shor, Sheor, Sep, or Shezarr, every single version goes the same way: creation happens, other spirits and gods get pissed at him, he's bound, he's killed/torn to pieces/separated from his divine center and forced to wander the earth. His heart landed in Red Mountain, and was destroyed in Morrowind, and some say that his corpse became the two moons of Nirn.
- Magnus: The god of magic and the supposed architect of creation. When he realized what he made, he ran the fuck away, ripping a hole through creation to Aetherius, with this hole becoming the sun. Some part of him got caught in creation though, becoming the force of magic. He also had a host of assistants called the Magna-Ge, who ripped similiar holes in creation when running away, these becoming the stars. Very little lore exists about the Magna-Ge, and believe us it reads like a mushroom trip. His associated artifact is the Staff of Magnus, which has the power to drain magicka, and possibly the Eye of Magnus, a mysterious floating orb of incredible power whose purpose is unclear, though may have been one of the tools Magnus used to create the world.
- Phynaster: An Ancestor-God of the Altmer, though some Bretons also worship him, who taught them how to live another 100 years by using a shorter walking stride.
- Syrabane: Another Ancestor-God of the Altmer, who aided men in destroying the Sload kingdom of Thras. Often called the Apprentice's God, as the younger members of the Mage's Guild worship him.
- Trinimac: The warrior god of the ancient Aldmer, who lead armies against the men. He eventually got eaten by Boethiah and became Malacath (more below).
- Xarxes: The scribe to Auri-El, and the god of ancestry and secret knowledge. He made his wife Oghma (no, not that one) from his favorite moments in history.
"Not Our Ancestors" in Aldmeris and "Our stronger, better ancestors" in Dunmeris, the Daedra (singular: Daedroth, not to be confused with the crocodile-like Daedra called Daedroth) are the Et'Ada who did not partake in the creation of the world. Because they didn't quasi-suicide themselves to pour their essence into the world, their power is both more focused, but their power on Nirn is more limited compared to their Aedric counterparts. As such their powers are limited to the likes of curses and artifacts, and can only walk the realm in forms that severely limit their powers.
Daedric Princes instead have their own singular realms, the Realms of Oblivion. A Daedric Prince is Omnipotent within their realm, because it is part of them and their mind. Their own realms are made out of them, similar to how Nirn is made out of Aedra; the Daedra are still fully alive and have much greater control over their own realm, but the tradeoff is that each realm is pretty small. Despite serving as the setting's "devils" (in that the word Daedra pretty much means Devil), they are not all completely evil. They range from "hates undead" and "wants to hunt dangerous game" to "prince of destruction" and "king of rape". Even if they are benevolent at times, the Daedra are not to be trifled with and are very dangerous.
- Azura: The Daedra associated with periods of change, twilight in particular, and magic and prophecy. Allegedly Nocturnal's sister, and one of the few Daedra not to be considered evil, though she is intensely prideful and easily aggravated, treating the Dunmer with a character not unlike how old testament Yahweh treated the 12 tribes of Israel. Azura is worshipped by the Dunmer and Khajit, though she had a mutual hatred for the Dwemer. Her realm of Oblivion is Moonshadow, a beautiful place of silver cities, gardens, and perpetual twilight. Her artifact is Azura's Star, an item which can hold the souls of living creatures. If this sounds like the soul gem items found across the series, it is, but Azura's Star is a max capacity soul gem they doesn't get consumed upon use, and is thus reusable.
- Boethiah: The Daedra associated with deceit, ambition, treachery, competition and sedition. Goes hand in hand with Mephala and is basically her louder sibling. Despite sounding like some kind of fucked up noble, Boethiah often takes the appearance of a patrician warrior (can be female, but usually male), and they enjoy inflicting mayhem and bloodshed on mortals. Regarded by the Dunmer, either through worship or hatred, and some versions of their origin tale has all sorts of scholarly pursuits emerging from their teachings. Their realm is Attribution's Share (also known as Snake Mount), a place of labyrinthine policies and betrayals. Their artifacts are Goldbrand, a high end katana, and the Ebony Mail, high end armor that cause poison damage to those around the wearer.
- Clavicus Vile: The Daedra associated with wishes and pacts. He's the asshole genie who ensures that all the wishes and pacts are twisted so he comes out on top, usually while gaining the soul of the one foolish enough to deal with him. He appears as a jovial fellow with horns sprouting from his forehead, and is usually accompanied by Barbas, a dog who holds half of Clavicus' power. His realm is the Fields of Regret, which, despite its name, is a tranquil countryside, dotted with cities of glass and ornate buildings. His artifact is the Masque of Clavicus Vile, which makes its wearer more popular and likeable.
- Hermaeus Mora: The Daedra associated with fate and forbidden knowledge. Supposedly the sibling of Mephala, he seeks gather and obtain as much knowledge as possible. He often appears as a collection of eyes, tentacles, and pincers. Proper Lovecraftian motherfucker. His realm is Apocrypha, an endless library filled with and made from books of forbidden knowledge, with seas of ink and tentacles. His artifacts are the Black Books, which transport their reader to Apocrypha and can grant access to forbidden knowledge, and the Oghma Infinium, a tome that can allow one to achieve near-demigod level abilities.
- Hircine: The Daedra associated with hunting and therianthropes. He created the many werebeasts that exist in Tamriel, and claims their souls upon death. He appears either as an animal or a man, with the horns of a deer, unless he appears as deer. His realm is the Hunting Grounds, a realm of dense woodlands and vast grasslands, inhabited by daedra, beasts, and therianthropes, where werebears and Nords hunt by day, and Hircine along with a pack of werewolves hunts by night. His artifacts are the Saviour's Hide, a hide cuirass that makes the wearer more resistant to magic, and the Ring of Hircine, a ring that allows one to transform into a werewolf, if not already a lycanthrope, and lycanthropes to control their transformations.
- Malacath: The Daedra associated with orcs, goblins, ogres, curses, and outcasts. Definitely a good daedra if you happen to be an Orc, but to other races he's benign at the best of times (altohugh he's never outright malevolent to the degree of Molag or Mehrunes). He technically is not a daedric prince (and the other daedric princes don't count him as one of them, which is fitting for a patron of outcasts) because his origin makes him an aedra, but he often is counted as a daedric prince because he rules over a realm of Oblivion. Originally he was Trinimac, one of the ancestor sprits of the Altmer, who was eaten by Boethiah and then shat out as Malacath, though he says the story is too literal minded, and there are those who say that Trinimac and Malacath are two separate deities. He appears a muscular orc wielding a heavy weapon. His realm is Ashpit, a realm of dust and ash, dotted with palaces of smoke and gardens, where levitation and magical breathing are necessary to survive. His artifacts are the Scourge, a mace that banishes all daedra that make contact with it, and Volendrung, a Dwemer made warhammer.
- Mehrunes Dagon: The Deadra associated with destruction, revolution, change, ambition, and energy. One of the more evil daedra, of whom little is known, and the antagonist of Battlespire and Oblivion. He appears as red-skinned giant with four arms, carrying a two-headed axe. His realm is the Deadlands (no, not that one), a realm of scorched, volcanic islands and ruined structures amidst a sea of lava, with hostile life living on the islands. He once was a good guy before a curse was put on him by Alduin for interfering with his devouring of the world. His artifact is Mehrunes' Razor, a dagger that has a small chance of instantly killing whatever it cuts.
- Mephala: The Daedra associated with spiders, webs, lies, secrets, plots and murder. Sibling to Hermaeus Mora, the Dunmer worship her as one of the "Good Daedra", with her having taught them the arts of stealth and assassination. The Morag Tong, the assassin's guild in Morrowind, worships her through murder. She often appears as female of some form, but sometimes appears as a male. Her realm is the Spiral Skein, a wheel-shaped realm, with her palace in the middle, and the space between the "spokes" dedicated to one of eight sins. Her artifacts are the Ring of Khajiiti, a ring that makes its wearer faster and harder to detect, and the Ebony Blade, a life-leeching katana.
- Meridia: The Daedra asssociated with light and the energies of living things, and one of the few non-evil Daedric Princes. She was originally believed to have been one of the Magna-Ge, the spirits that followed Magnus to Aetherius, but was cast out for consorting with daedra, eventually creating her realm by bending and shaping the light of the sun. She hates all undead with a passion, and usually rewards those who destroy them. She either appears as an orb of light, or a blonde-haired woman in a gown. Despite all this, she generally does not command popular worship due to her haughty, bitter and aloof manner, stemming from her exile from the magna-ge. The last time she threw her support behind a mortal race She made the mistake of being the patron of the Heartland High Elves of Cyrodil, who were into human slavery and were generally tyrants. They ended up being near exterminated. There are hints in the lore that Molag Bal is obsessed with her and caused her fall from heaven. Her realm is the Colored Rooms, a cross between a coral reef and a field of floating stones, strewn with colorful trails of dust/clouds. Her artifacts are the Ring of Khajiiti and the Dawnbringer, a sword that burns the undead and upon killing them makes them explode.
- Molag Bal: The Daedra associated with domination, enslavement, rape, and vampires. Quite inarguably the most evil of the Daedric Princes, as he simply desires to harvest souls of mortals by inciting strife and discord among them. He also created the first vampire by raping a Nedic woman. He appears as a monstrous being of varying appearance, but usually has horns and hooves. His realm is Coldharbour, which is an apocalyptic and desolate reflection of Nirn where the air is freezing, every wall is smeared with blood and shit and there are charnal houses and slave pens as far as the eye can see. His artifact is the Mace of Molag Bal, a mace that drains the energies of those it hits and traps their souls upon death. Main antagonist of both the original game and Elder Scrolls Online, with Mehrunes Dagon basically stealing his invasion plans. Seriously Mehrunes invades Nirn in the same ways in the same order.
- Namira: The Daedra associated with ancient darkness, revulsion, and cannibals. Not much is known of her, other than she's associated with anything revolting, and her followers prefer to live in dark and squalid conditions. Her realm is the Scuttling Void, of which nothing is really known about. Her artifact is the Ring of Namira, a ring that boosts one health after cannibalizing a corpse, or reflects damage back onto the wearer's attacker.
- Nocturnal: The Daedra associated with darkness, night, luck and thieves. Most thieves in Tamriel revere her to some degree, for obvious reasons, and the Thieves Guild reveres her as their patron. She appears often as a dark-haired woman in a hooded gown, accompanied by ravens. Her realm is Evergloam, a realm in perpetual twilight, consisting of a primary plane and constantly shifting pocket planes. Her artifacts are the Skeleton Key, a key/lockpick that can open anything from locks to portals to one's hidden potential, the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, a cowl that hides the wearer's true identity and makes him a better thief, and the Bow of Shadows, a bow that can turn its wielder invisible.
- Peryite: Nurgle's less-jovial cousin, this is the Daedra associated with tasks, pestilence, and natural order. Peryite is considered one of the weakest Daedric Princes (not that any daedric prince can be called "weak" by mortal standards), and is charged with keeping the lower realms of Oblivion and the lesser daedra in line. He often appears as a green, four-legged dragon, but sometimes appears as ghostly apparitions of vermin. His realm is The Pits, which resembles Deadlands in its landscape. His artifact is the Spellbreaker, a shield that can reflect magic.
- Sanguine: Basically just a less-rapey or /d/isgusting Slaanesh. The Daedra associated with hedonism, debauchery, indulgence, and revelry. He's often depicted on seals and signs of brothels and whorehouses. He appears as a portly dremora, with a bottle in one hand and a whore in another. His realms are the Myriad Realms of Revelry, countless pocket realms that are fashioned to meet the needs and demands of its visitors. His artifact is the Sanguine Rose, a rose-shaped staff/staff-sized rose that summons a dremora to fight for its owner.
- Sheogorath: Everyone's favorite, this is the lolrandom Chaotic Stupid Daedra associated with madness and creativity. There are many stories and legends about him, like how he invented music from the body parts of a woman he killed and how he trolled everyone of the other Daedric Princes at various points. He appears as an elderly, fine-dressed gentleman with a cane. His realm is the Shivering Isles, a landmass surrounded by islands that's divided in two, to represent both shades of madness. His artifact is the Wabbajack, a staff that does something completely random when used. He is distinguishable from other daedra by the fact that, Old Sheogorath was basically a result of bipolar disorder of Jyggalag and new Sheogorath is actually human. The Hero of Kvatch from TES: Oblivion was named new Sheogorath by grateful Jyggalag once his curse was lifted, and going by Sheogorath's dialogue in Skyrim as well as him fondly remembering his other adventures back then, this event is canon.
- Jyggalag: The Lawful Stupid Daedra associated with logic, order, and deduction. Originally, he was the most powerful of the Daedric Princes, but the others cursed him to become Sheogorath, who represented everything he hated. The curse did allow him to return at the end of every era, leading the event known as the "Grey March" and obliterating Shivering Isles only to revert back to Sheogorath and start over again. This seemingly neverending cycle of torment finally ended, when Sheogorath managed to lure Hero of Kvatch to the Shivering Isles and successfully train him for his future duties and prepare him for the Grey March. By the end of the Shivering Isles expansion, Jyggalag is defeated by the Protagonist, thus finally lifting the curse. He then heads off to parts unknown, but not before naming Hero of Kvatch "New Sheogorath". He has yet to make a reappearance in the games despite his DLC being canon. He appears a as a giant, gray knight wielding a sword.
- Vaermina: The Daedra associated with dreams and nightmares. One of the more evil daedra, with some saying that torture also belongs to her sphere of influence. She appears as an old woman in a robe, wielding a staff. Her realm is Quagmire, a nightmarish realm where Vaermina draws the minds of mortals, collecting their memories and leavings nightmares in return. Her artifact is the Skull of Corruption, a staff that creates a clone of the target, who then attacks the target.
Et'Ada and other gods that don't belong to either group also exist. Some of the more important ones being:
- Alduin: The firstborn of Akatosh and his destroyer aspect, who most believed was just the Nordic version of Akatosh. His job is to bring about the end of the current kalpa so that the next one may begin, but by the time of Skyrim, he's decided to just rule over the world. You defeat him at the end of Skyrim, but unlike any other dragon his soul is not absorbed by the dragonborn, leaving many believing he'll return one day to do his job properly.
- All-Maker: Possibly another name for Anu. The god of the Skaal and the source of all life, the Skaal believe that when you die you go to him, and he reincarnates you as new being. Oneness, or harmony, with nature is important, as the Skaal draw their magical powers from it and it pleases the All-Maker. Opposing him is The Adversary, a many aspected god who torments and tests the Skaal.
- Dagoth Ur: The main antagonist of Morrowind, he was once the trusted advisor of Nerevar until he experimented with the Heart of Lorkhan and managed to draw power from it. By the events of the game he is properly batshit loopy with divinity, and also without question the most dangerous thing on Nirn because he exists within a terrifying middle-ground between CHIM, Zero Sum and Amaranth - he has godlike power because of his awarness of Anu's dream but cannot maintain his individuality or fade into the Dream, so his broken, traumatised mind is being slowly imprinted on the dream of Anu. Nevertheless, he seemingly dies by the hand of Nerevar's reincarnation after you sever his connection to the heart. Affable and almost as infinitely quotable as Sheogorath.
- The Ideal Masters: Once mortal spellcasters during the Merethic era, they forsook their mortality and physical forms to become beings of pure soul energy. In the process however, they found they had become filled with a terrible hunger for souls. The Ideal Masters are the source of all soul gems, and of the arts of soul-trapping, and therefore enchantment. Their private realm within Oblivion, the Soul Cairn, is where every soul that is ever trapped in a Soul Gem goes. They rarely bother manifesting at all, though a few gigantic crystals in the Cairn channel their influence and their hunger. Their name comes from their belief that, by removing mortal souls from the cycle of rebirth and trapping them in eternal undeath, they are ultimately granting all beings eternal peace... and there is a small amount of evidence to support this. Despite all this, they aren't really ambitious, and they even helped the hero of Battlespire because they were tired of Mehrunes Dagon driving across their lawn on the way to the mortal world.
- Mannimarco: An old and powerful Altmer necromancer and lich, supposedly became the god of necromancy after the events of Daggerfall and returns as the main antagonist for the Mages Guild questline in Oblivion.
- The Tribunal: Also known as the Almsivi, they were originally three Chimer, the predecessors of Dunmer, Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec, and counselors to Nerevar, who also stole their powers from the Heart of Lorkhan, and promptly ruled over the Dunmer from early/mid First Era to the end of the Third Era. Almalexia eventually went insane and killed Sotha Sil, the Nerevarine killed her, and Vivec got dragged to Oblivion during the events of Oblivion. Without the influence of the Tribunal, the Red Mountain erupted and Morrowind promptly went to shit.
- Tsun: The Nordic god of trials against adversity and Shor's shield-thane, he died fighting against foreign (read: elven) gods and was then assigned to be the guardian of the whalebone bridge leading to the Hall of Valor in Sovngarde. You get fight him for your right to enter the hall in Skyrim.
- Sithis: The primordial manifestation of Chaos and Entropy. Exists somewhere outside of the bounds of the cosmos and is practically feared by nearly everyone, given that it represents death and the eventual end of all things. Inhabits a pocket-dimension called the Void. The Dark Brotherhood have a particular reverence and connection to Sithis, and all things slain through their assasinations ends up in its realm. Basically the God of Many Faces from ASOIAF mixed with Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
The first two Elder Scrolls games had eight playable races; the three after that added Imperials and Orcs as playable races. There's also a ton of unplayable races as well, but UESP can explain them better than us.
The races of Tamriel are generally divided into three categories; the races of Men are the various ethnicities of human, the Mer races are the different species of elf, and the Beastmen are explained as "where the fuck did these dudes come from?"
- Akaviri/Tsaesci: Fantasy Japanese. Not directly presented in game, but their spirits may be seen in certain missions. Left a significant mark in imperial history, as Akaviri invaders were on a mission of search of Dragonborn, which turned out to be founder of the second Empire, Reman. They swore allegiance to him and served as elite guard of his descendants. These names are interchangeably used, but some sources imply that Akaviri and Tsaesci are actually different group of people, with Tsaesci being snake like, even naga, perhaps. As for how is it possible to have snek humans, well, dwarves and orks and most bizarrely, some imply that Khajiit are simply a subspecies of elves here, so just roll with this. One source suggests the human Akaviri were "devoured" by the Tsaesci but whether that means they were literally all eaten or simply enslaved or culturally assimiliated is anyone's guess.
- Bretons: Best described as half-elves from Bretonnia with a hint of French-ness. Probably the least badass of the humans here (which is all relative - many great heroes throughout Tamriel's history were Bretons including several of Cyrodiil's Emperors) but they are still the most gifted with magic because of their elf blood. They even get a magic resistance out of the deal. True to the French stereotype, they're great cooks but also a bit snobby. Their home province of High Rock isn't even a united kingdom, but rather a patchwork quilt of petty kingdoms, embroiled in political conflict and usually only tangentially aligned with the Empire at the best of times.
- Reachmen: Tribal people of Breton descent native to The Reach. Used to rule a bunch of petty kingdoms in the area before being subjugated by the Alessian Empire first, and later by Tiber Septim. By the Fourth Era they tried to take the Reach again but Ulfric Stormcloak put a stop to that in the now infamous "Markarth Incident" that gave rise to the Stormcloak Rebellion. Now split between those trying to just live their lives in peace, and the Forsworn, raiders who went back to the old ways of using fur and hide armor, weapons of stone, bone, and wood, and worshipping the Daedra and venerating hagravens (witches who gave their humanity to become powerful spellcasters).
- Imperials: Also known as the "Cyrodiilics", the Imperials are a civilised and cosmopolitan people, more or less Roman in culture (but in very early lore they were actually Mesoamerican, and their ancestors the Nedes were ancient Chinese). Like practically all humans in fantasy settings, they're average at nearly everything, control the world, and are kind of boring compared to everyone else. They've forged three continent-spanning empires in their history, and the first time involved a time-bending magical giant robot. They've also in the past had a space race with the Altmer to colonise Masser and Secunda. Yes, really. Surprisingly, for most of the Third Era, most Emperors were not Imperials, but Bretons.
- Nedes: The progenitors of Nords, Imperials, and Bretons. Came to Tamriel after their homeland of Atmora begun to freeze over and eventually settled into what would be the Hammerfell region. When the Redguards came from the west, they enslaved and exterminated the Nedes, and adopted much of their customs, language, and religion.
- Nords: Basically manly as all hell, magic and elf-hating not-Vikings from the frozen land of Skyrim. Tend to be very very badass because they have to live in an inhospitable hellhole with bears, sabre-tooth cats, trolls, giants, big nopey frost spiders the size of bears and they also fought and killed all the dragons in the past. Their ancestors, the Atmorans, nearly exterminated the entire Snow Elf race with just five hundred warriors despite being basically cavemen with no understanding of agriculture or the written language, going up against a iron age civilisation with magic. The Nords then fell in line behind a badass named King Vrage the Gifted and went full Genghis motherfucking Khan on Tamriel, conquering a vast empire that fell apart when his grandson Borgas died and Skyrim fell into a succession crisis. Not much happened afterwards - the Nords fought, won and lost a few wars against the Dwemer, the Akaviri and themselves until Tiber Septim rocked up and folded them into his Third empire.
- Skaal: Nords native to Solstheim. Split between those trying to live like the Nords of olden times (read: fighting, drinking, and hunting like there's no tomorrow), and those living in harmony with nature and worshipping the All-Maker through it.
- Redguard: Fantasy Moors/Africans, but with the sword reverence of the Japanese. Skilled warriors hailing from the sunken islands of Yokuda (the sinking of which they were the apparent cause by their warriors overusing a forbidden sword technique that let them split atoms), and the only guys to have invented gunpowder. Redguards are some of the greatest sailors in Tamriel, and they tend to scorn magic due to religious taboos against necromancy and their many past wars with the magic-proficient Bretons. This dislike fades over time and by the 4th era, Destruction and Restoration magic have obtained widespread acceptance due to their straightforwardness. Interestingly, Daggerfall has a reference Redguards seem to have "cannons" on their naval ships.
- Altmer (High Elves): Every stereotype of Elves being narcissistic pricks, amplified a hundredfold. As of the Fourth Era, their home of Summerset Isle (now Alinor) is governed by the Thalmor, who are out to unravel all creation because they believe mortality was a cruel trick played on them by the gods of Men (and no, this belief is not just some quirk of the Thalmor, the ancient Aldmer believed this as well). They even practice eugenics, wear long black coats and kill any undesirable progeny. It is suggested that they don't even have names among themselves, they just assign each other a long number that sounds like a name to human ears. Nearly every Altmer is either a Wizard or a magical warrior.
- Ayleids (Heartland High Elves): An offshoot race from the Aldmer, the ancestors of the Altmer. Notable for being the original founders of the Imperial City and the founders of the first empire in Tamriel. Also notable for worshipping the Daedra and torturing their Nedic slaves in nightmare fuel ways for shits and giggles (like skinning runaways alive, making gardens and sculptures out of their guts and bones, setting human children on fire, that kind of thing). If the Imperials are Romans then the Ayleids were the Etruscan kings who ruled Rome prior to the founding of the Roman Republic. They were driven to extinction by the Nedes after the Alessian Slave Rebellion, and their ruins dotting Cyrodiil are the only remaining sign of their existence.
- Bosmer (Wood Elves): Wood Elves in the Dwarf Fortress sense, only not quite as insane. They are some of the greatest archers in Tamriel and they have a long history of warring with the Khajiit. They also happen to be cannibals because of an ancient pact they made with the forest god Y'ffre (basically said forest god won't let them eat vegetation, so they can't afford to let any meat go to waste). So they are the total opposite of the stereotype of elves being vegans. Through this pact they can also turn themselves into monsters, though this trick is only used when the existence of Valenwood itself is threatened. They also have no understanding of woodworking and they brew alcohol from the fermented flesh of their dead enemies. Hardcore. (As a note on the cannibalism thing, you don't actually have to worry about getting shanked and eaten by every wood elf you
meatmeet, it's just their standard means of dealing with dead bodies.)
- Dunmer (Dark Elves): Elves with a blue-grey tint to their skin who got cursed by their Daedric patron for complex reasons. Their culture is a bizarre mish-mash of China, Japan, Mongolia, ancient Mesopotamia and the Biblical Israelites, with northern English accents (and a distinct gravelly voice for the men). They primarily worship the Daedra along with the Tribunal, three mortals who ascended to godhood by tapping into the Heart of Lorkhan. Since they joined the Empire by treaty instead of by conquest, their homeland of Morrowind has many unique laws, including Inquisitors and (till the tail end of the 3rd Era) legalized slavery. Highly supremacist and xenophobic, the Fourth Era has bitten them in the arse hard as most of Morrowind was devastated by volcanic eruption and their Argonian slaves have occupied what's left, leaving most surviving Dunmer as unwelcome refugees. How the mighty have fallen.
- Dwemer (Deep Elves): Elves who lived in the northern mountain ranges, they were the most advanced race to have existed, having figured steampower, created soul gem-powered automata, and Tonal Architecture, the manipulation of sound to alter reality. Even though they are for all intents and purposes dwarves, they were actually human-sized - they were called dwarves by a race of giants native to Tamriel who are now lost to history. A very strong contender for the single most badass race in Tamriellic history, besides the early Nords and the modern Argonians. Their belief system was terrifyingly alien even to the other inhabitants of the continent, arrogant and dogmatic, hated and dreaded by every other race they met. They were atheists in a world where the existence of the gods is *indisputable fact*, which should tell you all you need to know about how crazy (and also kind of badass) they were. They all disappeared after they activated the Numidium, a massive golem powered by the Heart of Lorkhan, except for one who was exploring outer realms. There are multiple theories to explain their disappearance: they became the armoured skin of Numidium or the metaphysical concept of "is not" itself, ascended to another plane outside of Aetherius where not even Vivec can sense them, sent themselves forward in time, or just their attempt at reforging themselves into gods went wrong at the "reduce ourselves to base elements" part of the process and they all went "Poof!" as a result. There is a wizard in Skyrim who claims to have met some Dwemer while travelling the other planes, but who knows if he is telling the truth or not.
- Falmer (Snow Elves): Pale-haired and skinned elves originally native to Skyrim, they got their asses kicked so hard by the Atmorans they went into hiding, with other going to the Dwemer for shelter. What the Dwemer didn't tell them was part of the deal was shelter meant being enslaved by them and forced to subsist on toxic fungi that made them all blind. Several generations of this diet and other factors eventually turned them into blind, noseless, hunchbacked, barely-sentient subterranean degenerates. A small number of Falmer did escape being wiped out by the Atmorans or enslaved by the Dwemer in an isolated part of Skyrim, until one of them ended up becoming a Vampire and went crazy with anger at being cut off from his god and killed all of the others except for his brother. After the player kills him in the Dawnguard DLC, his brother may be the last remaining uncorrupted Falmer in existence (unless there are any other Falmer who found good hiding places).
- Orsimer (Orcs): Also known as the "Pariah Elves", descended from a race of Elves who got screwed over due to Daedric faggotry. Most Orsimer live assimilated into other cultures or in destitute and isolated strongholds, akin to native reservations, far out in the wilderness. Every time they have tried to build a new city-state in High Rock, Orsinium, the Bretons or Redguards came and knocked it over and as of the Fourth Era, Orsinium exists somewhere in the Skyrim-Hammerfell border. Also, the Nords only wish they could be as hardcore warriors as the Orcs, which means the two races have something of an odd friendship. They live short, brutal lives in conflict with nature and the other races, making them rock-solid tough. They are also brilliant armoursmiths. Worth noting is the fact that at the time of the very first game, Orcs weren't even considered PEOPLE by Tamrielic culture, but by the time of Oblivion nobody would think twice about walking into a shop to find that it was run by an orc anymore than they would a shopkeeper of any of the above races.
- Argonians: A race of warm-blooded lizard people, well-spoken and skilled as both warriors and mages. Have a weird connection to semi-sentient trees called Hist where they may or may not be gene-engineered super soldiers enslaved by said Hist trees. Also, they actually start life as perfectly ordinary lizards that only gain sapience and humanoid shape upon eating the sap of said trees. Despite being weirdos and the targets of discrimination, they have an unbreakable hold on their homeland: Tiber Septim never truly conquered Black Marsh, he just barely conquered some of the border towns and called it a win and apparently the Argonians didn't care enough to contest it; and during the Oblivion Crisis, the Dremora were eventually forced to close the gates because the Argonians were sending invading armies through them. Apparently they are masters of Vietcong-style jungle warfare and invading Black Marsh is as big a military mistake as challenging Britain to a naval war or invading Russia in the winter, as the province is a veritable green hell where every blade of grass conceals an angry lizardman just waiting to spear you to death or drag you under the mud and drown you, if your feet or eyes don't rot first.
- Khajiit: Technically related to Elves, but hard to tell by looking because they have many different forms that are determined at birth by the waxing and waning of Masser and Secunda: some Khajiit look like the Bosmer, some like furries, some look like housecats except they can talk and use magic, and some get to be completely badass horse-sized tigers, named Battlecats by the Imperials. They are skilled desert raiders, merchants and farmers. Their culture is basically the Romani outside of their homeland, and South/Southeast Asian within. Their prime export is Moon Sugar, a substance that can be best described as magical cocaine made from crystallised moonlight. Like Argonians, they are a prime target for racism.
Though several spinoffs were made, when referring to "The Elder Scrolls" only the five central games are being referred to.
The Elder Scrolls I: Arena
Jagar Tharn, the Imperial Battlemage and trusted servant of the Emperor Uriel Septim VII turns evil, locks the Emperor inside Oblivion, and takes over Tamriel. His apprentice Ria Silmane discovered this and told the player, so Tharn killed the former and imprisoned the latter. Yet Silmane persisted, and helped the player escape prison and revealed how Tharn could be destroyed: by recovering the eight parts of the Staff of Chaos from all over the empire. The player succeeds, kills Tharn, returns the Emperor and all is well. This was the only game where the player could visit all of Tamriel.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The player, a personal friend of the Emperor, is sent to the city of Daggerfall, High Rock to investigate a haunting by the ghost of the former king. Things quickly get out of hand when you discover the Numidium, a massive golem used by Tiber Septim to gain control over Tamriel. There are several mutually exclusive endings possible; canon opted to make them all happen in an event called the Warp in the West, a Dragon Break, which is a specific type of event where divine fuckery causes time and space to take it up the ass hard. Holds the record for the largest virtual world ever created, being about two times the size of the UK, although due to technical limitations, most of it was copy-and-paste.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Morrowind ships the player to the island of Vvardenfell, in the Dunmer province of Morrowind, where you are to report to the perpetually shirtless crackhead called Caius Cossades to investigate a cult that is growing rapidly in size. This cult is revealed to be the doings of the Sixth House, a clan of Dunmer that was destroyed after its leader, Lord Voryn Dagoth, rebelled against Lord Indoril Nerevar, the leader of the war against the Dwemer. Nerevar died shortly afterwards (though it is unclear if he died from the wounds Dagoth inflicted on him, or that his advisors, the Tribunal, murdered their lord so they could use the tools of the Dwemer to grant themselves near-divinity), and the Tribunal took over as the god-kings of the Dunmer.
There was only one problem: Dagoth wasn't actually dead, and he granted himself near-divinity too. He's also completely insane because mortal minds simply were not meant to handle that kind of power, and now he is using a divine disease to influence the dreams of a bunch of Dunmer nationalists, transforming them into horrifying humanoid cephalopods hellbent on driving the Empire and all the other races out of Morrowind.
You take the role of Nerevar's incarnation, and long story short you kill Dagoth, properly this time. However two of the Tribunal lie dead and the last one sacrificed his divinity to help the Nerevarine. Things in Morrowind do not get better after this.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
You play as a nobody prisoner rotting in a cell in the Imperial City in the waning years of the Third Era. You catch a break when Emperor
Patrick Stewart Uriel Septim VII pays a visit to your cell because his escape tunnel happens to be in with you (it's chalked up to fate or a bureaucratic error). Turns out his heirs have been assassinated, and despite the best efforts of you and Cyrodiil's Finest, the Emprah gets shanked too. Before he does however, he entrusts you with the Amulet of Kings and tells you to go look for the Emperor's last son, a bastard child named Martin (who is voiced by Sean Bean) who is also being sought out by an apocalyptic cult of Mehrunes Dagon led by the last known child of the Camoran Dynasty, the family who had ruled over man for years before St. Alesseia came and slapped their shit down.
By the events of the ending, Mehrunes Dagon's attempted invasion has been thwarted and Tamriel has been saved from a truly horrifying outcome, but Martin is dead and the Septim Empire is officially left without an heir. Things in Tamriel do not get better after this.
It was the first big-name RPG to appear on seventh generation consoles, and made the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 work for their money.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Also known as the Volsunga Saga: The Game, chronologically set 201 years after Oblivion. It's been a long time and a lot has happened. Basically the Empire went to shit. A faction of Altmer supremacists named the Thalmor took over the Summerset Isles and seceded, also annexing Valenwood and turning Elsweyr into a client state. Morrowind got properly fucked because the Red Mountain erupted and the northern half of the country was left uninhabitable, the Argonians invaded the southern half as payback for years of slavery, and what isn't run by vengeful ex-slave lizards or covered in burning ash is in the midst of a political vacuum caused by the collapse of the pro-Imperial House Hlaalu. Then the newly-christened Aldmeri Dominion declared war on the Empire and even sacked the Imperial City. The Imperial Legion drove them out at great cost but the Emperor, Titus Mede II, was forced to sign a ceasefire with several punitive terms including a ban on Talos worship and giving up parts of Hammerfell. These terms (especially the Talos ban) were... controversial to say the least; Hammerfell, fed up with the fuckery of the elves and the Empire at this point, kicked them both out and declared independence. Between this and their handling of the Oblivion Crisis and the Red Mountain eruption, many people within the Empire began seeing it as weak and ineffectual, selling out the non-Cyrodiilic peoples to save their own sorry hides. But for now, an uneasy cold war exists between the two empires and everybody knows Round 2 is just around the corner.
You're a prisoner, but in a shocking turn of events, this time you're actually told WHY this time! Turns out you crossed the damn border illegally, you filthy alien - of course if you are a Nord or a High Elf then it's just chalked up to an asshole Imperial officer who doesn't want to deal with the paperwork and sends you to the block along with everyone else. See, at this point the Imperial authorities in Skyrim are very uneasy because there is a civil war going on, between the pro-Imperial de facto High Queen Elisif the Fair, and the eponymous forces of Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, a former Legion soldier turned Nord warlord who took umbridge to the terms of the ceasefire with the Dominion and now wants to drive out the Empire and claim the throne (so he is basically the Nord version of Robert the Bruce, even down to the controversial murder of a noble puppet that has made him effectively an outlaw king; he is also quite awesomely voiced by Vladimir Kulich), but he was captured and is going to get executed with you. Just mere moments before the frosty-looking bloke with the big axe gives you a discount haircut, a giant dragon god named Alduin the World Eater (Nidhogg with a touch of Jörmundgandr) decides to introduce himself to the world after being banished for ages and begins fucking up the town, giving you, Ulfric and his men a chance to escape. While everyone but Ulfric thinks the dragon is part of Ulfric's plan, in truth Alduin is there for YOU - you end up learning that you're the legendary Dragonborn, a mortal with the soul of a dragon who can basically do any of the cool shit a real dragon can do (besides flying), leaving you to solve the mystery of why the mysterious dragons are returning and find a way to stop Alduin from eating the world. And possibly also end the civil war by leading either side to victory, leading to either an independent new Skyrim (Stormcloaks win) or a reinvigorated Empire that holds on to its most vital province and has a key figure of the dragonblood once again, leaving it in the best state it has been in decades (Imperials win). Either way, neither side likes the Aldmeri Dominion and war is on the horizon.
The Elder Scrolls Online
TES: the MMORPG. Early on it suffered from growing pains and problems, but after surviving the hate and becoming only buy to play, it became a rather nice game. It is set in the Second Era, 800 years before Oblivion and a full millennium before Skyrim. Tamriel is currently locked in a mêlée à trois between three fragile alliances all vying for the Imperial throne - the Ebonheart Pact (Nords, Dunmer and Argonians), the Aldmeri Dominion (Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit) and the Daggerfall Covenant (Bretons, Redguards and Orcs). You can also play Imperials if you upgraded your account to the Imperial Edition, they can join any of the three alliances. Meanwhile behind the scenes Molag Bal is scheming to meld Mundus with his nightmare realm Coldharbour and enslave all the mortal races. Someone oughta stop that shit, right?
The game had a very rough release, with Elder Scrolls players criticizing it for missing the series's aesthetics and "feel" and MMO players for the lackluster end-game, and also for it's expensive subscription (same price as WoW, but without the decade worth of content). However the game received praise for it's Cyrodill PvP map. Fast-forward a couple of years and various updates, the most notable one being One-Tamriel which completely overhauled the game's balance and dropped the subscription, and had various DLCs released which added multiple zones, classes and Dungeons.
All in all the game today is a decent MMO, with a thriving and relatively non-toxic community. However the game's plot is lackluster compared to other Elder Scrolls games, and it has a notable lack of iconic characters, specially if compared to World of Warcraft.
The Elder Scrolls VI
Announced at E3 2018, the game was confirmed to be in production. The trailer shows a mountainous eastern or western coast with some stone ruins. Bethesda has been completely silent on it and the simultaneously announced Starfield since their announcements, leading to many claiming vaporware.
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- The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, the definitive wiki for the series.
- Scrollhammer: if the Elder Scrolls and Warhammer had a bastard son, it would probably be like this.
- Scrollhammer 2nd Edition: If Elder Scrolls and Infinity had a bastard son.
- Unofficial Elder Scrolls RPG: A pen and paper RPG currently dead because Seht decided to take a break, but he's back now. Core 3E is pretty polished with many supplements actively being worked on and released by various anons.
- Savage Worlds: For which fanmade Elder Scrolls rules exist.