- A group of related races of sentient beings which developed from the Ehlnofey.
- A member of one of the aforementioned elvish races.
Mer is the word used in the ancient Aldmeri tongue to mean "person" or "us". The term is analogous to the way humans use the word man. Speakers of the Imperial tongue often substitute "elf" for "mer" especially in adjective form as "elvish" seems to sound better than the more correct term "meri". Most mer seem to accept "elf" as a suitable synonym though they still usually refer to each other as "mer".
When referring to individual members of the elvish races mer can be both singular (I've seen that mer in the Arena.) and plural (A dozen well-armed mer just went into that house!) When used in combination with other words from the Aldmeri tongue it simply means "a type of people" and is translated into common as "elf" or sometimes as "ones" (e.g. "first ones").
Generally speaking the mer believe themselves to be direct descendants of the Aedra having been tricked by Lorkhan into giving up their immortality to create the world. Their opinions on their mortality differs from race to race but none consider it a "gift" in the way humans do. Rather opinions range from lamenting the loss of their birthright to enduring the suffering as a test of character.
The elvish races are all longer lived than humans though some live longer than others. They also seem to have a higher affinity for nature and magic. Though all modern-day mer descended from a single proto-race they have diversified significantly in the thousands of years since the Mythic Era into a variety of mer races.
Tamrielic Elvish Races Return to the directory »
Most of the present-day elves live on the continent of Tamriel. For the most part these elvish races have integrated successfully with the Cyrodiilic Empire though some racial tension still exists in parts of the continent.
See main article: Altmer
Altmer in the ancient Aldmeri tongue means "High One" though the Altmer themselves would say "Cultured One". The Altmer consider themselves the most civilized people on Tamriel a statement which is difficult to refute outright. Of the modern elvish races Altmer are likely the closest in appearance and behavior to the ancient Aldmer due to a conscious effort of selective breeding. Of particular interest is the fact that two of the members of the Dunmer Tribunal Vivec and Almalexia appear much more like Altmer than Dunmer. This likely means the Chimer resembled Altmer before the change and these two were able to maintain that appearance through their stolen divine power. The Altmer believe it is their birthright to regain divine status and are likely attempting to breed the most perfect mer possible.
See main article: Bosmer
Bosmer translates most directly into Imperial speech as Tree-Sap People though they are much more commonly called Wood Elves. As the name suggests the Bosmer inhabit the wooded areas in southwest Tamriel particularly the Valenwood. Bosmer as a group are less haughty and cultured than Altmer and more attuned to nature. They are particularly well suited to hunting and ranging activities in the deep forests.
See main article: Dunmer
The Dunmer or Dark Elves are a somewhat isolationist race of mer populating the northeast portion of the continent Morrowind and in particular the huge island of Vvardenfell. They are ancient enemies of the Nords who often try to invade their homeland. Dunmer culture is quite different from that of other mer most notably in their rejection of the Aedra and worship of Daedra or their living gods The Tribunal. The word "dark" ostensibly describes the ash-colored skin but can also be interpreted as gloomy or sinister.
According to legend the Dunmer are the remnants of the elvish race the Chimer changed into Dunmer by the Daedric Prince Azura as punishment for the crimes of their leaders. Dunmer culture is much more cutthroat and aggressive than other Tamrielic cultures. Slavery was legal until just a few years prior to the end of the Third Era and there is still an active legally sanctioned assassins guild (the Morag Tong) which is permitted to kill with impunity under certain circumstances.
Ancient Elvish Races Return to the directory »
See main article: Aldmer
The Aldmer or First Ones were the ancestor race of all other elvish races and are the direct descendants of the Ehlnofey (besides the Hist the only ancient race of Nirn to survive its early days). Modern scholars believe that all of the Ehlnofey on Tamriel became the Aldmer while those on the other three continents became men (Nords Redguard and Tsaesci).
By the time recorded history begins the Aldmer had diverged into various other races. The Altmer are believed to be the closest to original Aldmer in look and behavior. The Daedric Princes occasionally interfered in Aldmeri life to create other derivatives (notably the Dunmer and Orcs). The term Aldmeri is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to all elves especially by Imperial speakers who are unaware of the history of the race.
See main article: Ayleid
The Ayleid also known as the Wild Elves or Heartland High Elves were an offshoot of the Aldmer that inhabited the highlands of central Tamriel. They lived primarily in what is now northern Cyrodiil during the Mythic and early First Eras. Much like the Dwemer in Morrowind Ayleid culture is known primarily for the complex and intricate architecture they created much of which still exists. Underground Ayleid ruins still contain remnants of their magic (including the increasingly rare Varla Stones) as well as the occasional artifacts. The Ayleid were also responsible for building White Gold Tower which today stands at the heart of the Imperial City. After a revolt by their human slaves approximately 200 years into the First Era the bulk of the Ayleid were eventually driven south to the Summerset Isles where they were assimilated into the Altmer. While civilized mer claiming to be Ayleid still appear in Tamrielic history until well into the Second Era most scholars believe the race has either died out or at best consists of scattered primitive tribes hiding deep within the Cyrodiilic forests.
The exact translation of Ayleid is not certain as they spoke a language which has been mostly lost to history. A traditional Bosmer poem "Meh Ayleidon"[source?] means "One Thousand Benefits of Hiding" so Ayleid may translate into Hidden Ones.
See main article: Chimer
The Chimer or Changed Ones were a splinter group of Aldmer who rejected almost all of the traditional religious teachings of their parent race. These mer instead chose to worship Daedric Princes specifically Azura Boethia and Mephala and place a much stronger emphasis on ancestor spirit worship. The three Daedra convinced the Chimer to reject Aedra worship as a lie and look down on their Aldmeri brothers as weak. The Chimer were led by a mer prophet named Veloth from the Summerset Isles to the large island to the east of mainland Tamriel which they initially named Velothi but was soon known as Resdayn. The Chimer lived in Resdayn with another splinter group of elves the Dwemer in alternating periods of peace and warfare with both the Dwemer and the Nords to the north until the middle of the Second Era. At that point a catastrophic battle between the two elvish races caused the entire Chimer race to change into the modern day Dunmer and their homeland became known as Morrowind.
DwemerSee main article: Dwemer
The Dwemer which translates roughly as Deep Ones were a scientifically advanced group of mer who rejected much of the traditional Aldmer teachings to emphasize science and magecraft over god worship. Their name derives from their habit of building vast structures both as dwellings and as workshops deep in the mountains of Vvardenfell. The Dwemer along with the Chimer were traditional enemies of the Nords and often were at odds with the Chimer themselves. At some point possibly after their disappearance near the end of the Second Era their name was corrupted in the Imperial speech into "dwarf" although the Dwemer did not appear to resemble traditional dwarves in any meaningful way. They were basically the same size and shape as any other mer of the time though unlike other mer were often depicted with full beards. They are believed to be the only race of mer on Tamriel that did not descend from the original Aldmeri inhabitants but instead branched off from the Aldmer before their arrival and immigrated to Tamriel independantly.
There is only one known Dwemer still alive on Tamriel; due to an infection with the deforming corprus disease his current appearance (shown at right) is quite different from that of a healthy adult Dwemer.
Derivative Elvish Races Return to the directory »Certain races of people on Tamriel are indirectly descended from the elves though they are not considered mer in the strictest sense.
See main article: BretonThe Bretons are race of humans who interbred with elves mostly through Nordic concubines captured in the conquest of Skyrim during in the First Era. Originally termed Manmer by the Aldmer they were treated as lower-class citizens until the Nords took control of Skyrim back. At this point the Manmer mingled in with the human population and eventually migrated en-masse to High Rock to become Bretons. The Bretons are considered primarily human but inherit the magical affinity of their elvish blood.
See main article: Khajiit
According to their legends the Khajiit were created out of Bosmer stock by the Daedric Princess Azura (apparently a hobby of hers). The Khajiit actually occur as a number of racial subtypes depending on the phases of the moon at their birth. These range from a nearly-human variety to a barely-sentient cat variety.
OrsimerSee main article: Orsimer
The closest translation available for Orsimer is Pariah Ones (c.f. Orisinium "Pariah City"). The Orsimer like the Dunmer were originally an offshoot of the Aldmer who chiefly worshipped the Aedra Trinimac. When the Daedric Prince Boethiah was trying to convince the future Chimer to abandon their Aedra worship and follow him his first act was to "eat" Trinimac (how figurative this was is up for debate) and assume his form. When he was finished he left Trinimac behind who then changed into a Daedric Prince Malacath. Trinimac's Orsimer followers were also changed into the basic form seen today.
Other Elvish Races Return to the directory »
See main article: Falmer
The Falmer are a semi-mythical race of elves who are rumored to have lived in the Skyrim area before the arrival of the Nords. Little information exists on these elves aside from a few anecdotal accounts of meeting Snow Elves (see Fall of the Snow Prince). They are mostly known through legends primarily those of the Skald Nords of Solstheim. The Skald believe the Falmer have devolved into the goblin-like Rieklings while the Altmer believe they simply migrated south and integrated themselves into other mer races.
In Skyrim it is revealed that the Falmer were driven underground in their war with the Nords where they made an uneasy pact with the Dwemer. The Dwemer betrayed enslaved and rendered the Falmer blind. They now dwell in the Dwarven ruins where eons of living underground have changed them to a more primitive race and culture.
The Maormer or Sea Elves are a race of exotic elves that inhabit the tropical land of Pyandonea a group of islands well to the south the Summerset Isles. The most recent Pocket Guide to the Empire debunks a commonly-made claim that the Maormer were evicted by the Altmer. Instead they broke off from the ancient Aldmer when their immortal wizard-king Orgnum Thras began a revolt. What little is known about the Maormer includes their strange skin rumored to have chameleon-like properties and their practice of a Yokudan style of snake magic.
See also Return to the directory »
|Humans||Breton • Imperial • Kothringi • Nede • Nord • Orma • Redguard|
|Mer||Aldmer • Altmer • Ayleid • Bosmer • Chimer • Dunmer • Dwemer • Falmer • Left-Handed Elves • Maormer • Orsimer|
|Beast||Argonian • Imga • Khajiit • Lilmothiit • Sload|
|Akaviri||Dragons • Ka Po' Tun • Kamal • Tang Mo • Tsaesci|
|Et'ada||Aedra • Daedra|