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Mer (/mɛr/, meaning folk),[nb 1] or elves,[1] refers to any of the Elder Races of Mundus, such as the Dunmer (formerly the Chimer), Orsimer, Altmer, and Bosmer.[2] Besides these four races, the Falmer and Maormer are also said to be mer.[3] While the Bretons are the result of interbreeding between Aldmer and Nedes,[4] they are most commonly considered men, and not mer.[5] A chief distinguishing characteristic of Mer is their lengthy lifespans, with average citizens living over two centuries before being considered old—two or three times the span of Men.[6][7]

Children are few among most Mer. The average elven woman can conceive twice, but no more than four (and even that is considered rare).[8] That rule does not apply to Bosmer, who are known for their numerous offspring.[9] There are several known Dunmer families with over six children.[10][11] Those extraordinarily gifted in magic or alchemy, or favored by the Gods, can endure for millennia with seemingly no ill effects.[12] A few mer races have disappeared or otherwise died out, including the Dwemer and the Ayleids.[13][14] All of these races are thought to be descended from the Aldmer.[5] The Maormer either have a different origin entirely or diverged from their brethren before the Aldmer inhabited Summerset Isle.[15] Elves consider themselves the only "truly human race", as they are descended directly from the gods. Some elves regard Mannish and Beast races as nothing more than intelligent animals.[16]


High Lord Torinaan leads his Aldmer ships to Auridon
Statue of Topal the Pilot

The Aldmer (meaning "First Folk" or "Elder Folk"), or Alcharyai, were the original Merethic Era proto-mer who settled Summerset Isle and most of mainland Tamriel. They are often said to have been the first technologically sophisticated inhabitants of Nirn, although some believe this distinction belongs to the Hist. The ancestors to the beast people, the Argonians and Khajiit, existed at the time in aboriginal, preliterate communities, and were easily displaced by the more advanced Aldmer. The Aldmer allegedly came from a lost city-continent called Aldmeris, but a number of sources, supposedly even the revered Elder Scrolls, claim that this is pure myth.

As the Aldmer spread throughout Tamriel, they evolved away from one another, physically and culturally, into the various types of mer known today. Some remained in Summerset Isle and became the Altmer. The first emigrants to the mainland settled in Valenwood and became the Bosmer. Morrowind was colonized by both the Dwemer and later the Chimer (forerunners of the Dunmer). There were also the Ayleids of Cyrodiil, the Snow Elves of Skyrim, the Maormer of Pyandonea, and the Orcs or Orsimer, a group of Aldmer who worshipped Trinimac and were transformed when he became Malacath. They then migrated to the province of High Rock and founded Orsinium. High Rock is also home to the Bretons, mixed-blood descendants of the native Nedes and (non-Orc) Aldmeri settlers.

Not many Aldmer historical figures are known, but notable Aldmer include High Lord Torinaan, who first settled the Summerset Isles; Topal the Pilot, who discovered much of Tamriel; and Orgnum, a former Aldmer who is now the ageless sorcerer-king of the Maormer.

The Aldmer had a "chivalric high culture", but little is known of it. They were known to have their own music notation, which is reportedly difficult to read.

The modern Altmer are believed to resemble the original Aldmer. The Altmer today hold their ancestors in great reverence and constantly strive to emulate their ways; it has even been alleged that they selectively breed for Aldmer-like features. Some High Elf songs in modern times are written in the language of Old Aldmeris.

The term Aldmeri is occasionally used as a catch-all term for all elves, and is also used when referring to members of the Aldmeri Dominion.

For more information, see the main lore article.


Illustration of a typical Altmer male

The Altmer, or self-titled "Cultured People", are a tall, golden-skinned race, hailing from Summerset Isle. They are also known as High Elves by the denizens of Tamriel, or the more obscure term Salache, High Elves are generally viewed as being proud or snobbish. Altmer live two to three times as long as humans; with a 200-year-old Altmer being old and a 300-year-old Altmer being very, very old. Altmer consider themselves to be the most civilized culture of Tamriel; the common tongue of the continent is based on Altmer speech and writing, and most of the Empire's arts, crafts, laws, and sciences are derived from Altmer traditions.

The Altmer are the most strongly gifted in the arcane arts of all the races, and they are very resistant to diseases and immune to paralysis. However, they are also somewhat vulnerable to magicka, fire, frost, and shock, which makes them very weak against their strongest point - magic. They are among the longest living and most intelligent races of Tamriel, and they often become powerful magic users due to both their magical affinity and the many years they may devote to their studies.

For more information, see the main lore article.


The Ayleids, also known as the Heartland High Elves, Wild Elves, or Saliache, were the first race to establish an empire in Tamriel, and had ruled modern-day Cyrodiil for countless years dating back to before recorded history. They were thin and lean with pointed ears and angular facial features. Their complexion was lighter than that of the Dunmer, but they were darker than Altmer; their skin tone being a light tan to a dark bronze in color and their eyes ranging from white to turquoise.

Ayleidoon, their language, is similar to Aldmeris, the ancient language of the Aldmer. The Ayleids were the original founders of the Imperial City. They constructed the White-Gold Tower, which they called the "Temple of the Ancestors", in emulation of the Adamantine Tower. The Ayleid Empire collapsed in the early First Era when it was overthrown by the Alessian Slave Rebellion. While it's believed that the Ayleids remain in the wilds of every province on Tamriel, sightings have been few. There have been no known sightings in the Third or Fourth Eras.


Illustration of a typical Bosmer male

The Bosmer (formerly the Boiche) are the Elven clan-folk of Valenwood, a forested province in southwestern Tamriel. In the Empire, they are often referred to as Wood Elves, but they typically call themselves Bosmer and the Tree-Sap people. Bosmer rejected the stiff, formal traditions of Aldmeri high culture, preferring a more romantic, simple existence in harmony with the land and its wild beauty and creatures. They are relatively nimble and quick in body compared to their more "civilized" Altmeri cousins (who often look down upon the Bosmer as unruly and naive). Their agility makes them well-suited as scouts and thieves. However, they are also a quick-witted folk, and many pursue successful careers in scholarly pursuits or trading. Bosmer live two to three times as long as humans; with a 200-year-old Bosmer being old and a 300-year-old Bosmer being very, very old. Though they are considered less influential than some of their Elven brethren, the Bosmer are also relatively prone to producing offspring with 12 being considered average number of children in the family. As a result, they outnumber all other Mer on Tamriel.

The best archers in all of Tamriel, the Bosmer snatch and release arrows in one continuous motion; they are even rumored to have invented the bow. They have many natural and unique abilities; notably, they can command simple-minded creatures and have a nearly chameleon-like ability to hide in forested areas. Many in the forests of Valenwood follow the tenets of the Green Pact. These "Green Pact Bosmer" are religiously carnivorous and cannibalistic, and do not harm the vegetation of Valenwood, though they are not averse to using wooden or plant-derived products created by others.

For more information, see the main lore article.


The Chimer (literally, the People of the North), also called the Changed Folk, Velothi, Changed Ones, or the archaic Maliache were the Aldmeri tribes of dissidents who abandoned the ways of Summerset Isle and embarked on a great exodus to Morrowind. They followed the prophet Veloth, who spoke to them on behalf of Boethiah, Prince of Plots, and two other "Good Daedra". The teachings of Veloth and the Daedra spawned a new culture on Tamriel and a new people, sparking the period of the High Velothi culture. They were dynamic, ambitious, long-lived Elven clans devoted to fundamentalist ancestor worship. In appearance they had a dull golden skintone with bright yellow eyes. Almalexia of the Tribunal apparently maintained her appearance as a Chimer (as did Vivec, partially) despite the Curse which changed the Chimer into the Dunmer.

For more information, see the main lore article.


Illustration of a typical Dunmer male

The Dunmer, also known as Dark Elves, or the archaic Moriche, are the grey-skinned, typically red-eyed elven peoples of Morrowind. In the Empire, "Dark Elf" is the common usage, but they and their Aldmeri brethren prefer the term "Dunmer". "Dark" is variously interpreted as meaning "dark-skinned", "gloomy", and "ill-favored by fate", with the Dunmer and their national identity embracing these various connotations with enthusiasm.

Their combination of powerful intellects with strong and agile physiques produce superior warriors and sorcerers. On the battlefield, Dunmer are noted for their skill with a balanced integration of the sword, the bow and destruction magic. Dunmer live two to three times as long as humans; with a 200-year-old Dunmer being old and a 300-year-old Dunmer being very, very old. The oldest, wisest, most practiced and proficient Dunmer Mages can even live for over five hundred years, and with rituals, thousands. In character, they are generally grim, aloof, and reserved.

Dunmer distrust and are treated distrustfully by other races. They are often called proud, clannish, ruthless, and cruel, from an outsider's point of view, but greatly value loyalty and family. They also apparently have a reputation for quick tempers. Despite their powerful skills and strengths, the Dunmer's vengeful nature, age-old conflicts, betrayals, and ill-reputation prevent them from gaining more influence. Those born in their homeland of Morrowind are reputed to be considerably less friendly than those who grew up in the Imperial tradition.

For more information, see the main lore article.


two male Dwemer

The Dwemer, (literally 'the Deep, or Deep-Counseled or Secretive People, people of the deep), are a fabled "Lost Race" of Mer from Dwemereth, which mostly consisted of modern-day Morrowind, where they are believed to have been the most prolific, though they also had a strong presence in Hammerfell, High Rock, Skyrim and Solstheim.

The races of Mer use the term "Dwemer", which translates to Deep-Elves or Deep Folk and connoting variously with deep-delving, profound, and close-counseled; Imperial usage is Dwarven, derived in fable from the affectionate regard of the Giant races for their 'little' Dwemer friends. These Giants have been speculated to be Ehlnofey or the more common Giants.

The early history of the Dwemer is still clouded in mystery. There is no known story of their dissociation from the Aldmer, which must have occurred very early in Tamrielic history, as their society bore few correlations with that of the Altmer besides some similar legal principles. According to some legends, the Dwemer originated from the same group as the Chimer, and were treated as another tribe, and later, as a secular Great House. Other sources however claim they already occupied the northeast of Tamriel when Veloth and his people arrived there.

The Dwemer built elaborate underground cities near and beneath mountain ranges, including the Velothi Mountains and Red Mountain, and in the mountains of the isle Stros M'Kai. Many misconceptions about them have abounded for centuries: scholars long thought that most Dwemer ruins which dotted Tamriel outside Morrowind were mere outposts and that there were few significant Dwemer settlements elsewhere until 1E 420. The presentation of the Dwemer in fictitious but popular novels like the Ancient Tales of the Dwemer has also lodged an inaccurate impression of them in the popular consciousness, painting them as familiar, comfortable characters who were very similar to humans. In reality, they are better described as having been fearsome, unfathomable, and even cruel, though also careful, intelligent, and industrious. Their society consisted of free-thinking yet reclusive clans devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and the arcane until they mysteriously disappeared around 1E 700.

For more information, see the main lore article.

Lefthanded ElvesEdit

Yokuda, homeland of the Lefthanded Elves

The Lefthanded Elves (also Left-Handed Elves, or simply Lefthanders), also known as Kanuryai in their native tongue and Sinistral Mer (or Sinestral Elves), were a race of elves from Yokuda. They were the enemies of the Yokudans and fought long and bitter conflicts with them for a thousand years, with the Orichalc Tower being supposedly involved in their wargames. It is said the Lefthand Empire was four times the size the Third Empire under Tiber Septim, which itself accounted for the entirety of Tamriel.


Second Era depiction of King Orgnum

Maormer, also known as Sea Elves, Tropical Elves, Pyandoneans (or derogatorily as Fish Elves), are a race of Mer that reside on the island kingdom of Pyandonea, far south of the Summerset Isles. They possess many traits strange for elves, and they are theorized to be the result of interbreeding between Aldmer and the indigenous bestial tribes of Pyandonea. Similar to their Altmer cousins in build, their skin can range in tone from pearlescent white or grey to blue, and Maormer Leviathans can have scales. Some Maormer have strange, chameleon-like skin that is entirely colorless, as if their flesh were made of some white limpid jelly. Some Maormer ears are broader than those of other mer, and are flared along the outer ear like a clip point blade. Their ears are shaped in such a way that they resemble fins. Maormer eyes can be pale blue, with a faint distinction between the sclera and the iris. Their eyes can also be blank. They also may have gills. Their tattoos are elaborate, and they tend to display a vicious demeanor towards the denizens of Tamriel. Maormer are acclimated to life on the waves, and are steady on their feet in even the roughest waters. Maormer tongues can filter saltwater and make it potable. It is believed that Maormer bones are naturally springy.

Among the Maormer, the leviathans are the most feared. They have been described by one scholar as "the spawn of some unholy and sorcerous coupling of Sea Elf and Sea Serpent". They are scaly and massive, standing a head and a half over the tallest Nords when they draw themselves to their full height, which they don't often do because they carry themselves in a beastly posture. Maormer leviathans are usually hunched over, their backs bent and arced like a snake ready to strike. When they walk, their movements are akin to slithering in an uneven predatory lope. The Leviathans appear unused to using their legs on land. They move deftly in the water, and can climb effortlessly up the slippery sides of ships. They are capable of stretching their jaws out of place to swallow their prey.

For more information, see the main lore article.


Illustration of a typical Orc male

Orcs, also called Orsimer (Aldmeris: Cursed or Pariah Folk) in ancient times (as well as in modern times by followers of Trinimac), and Ornim in their native tongue, are the elves of the Wrothgarian Mountains, Dragontail Mountains, Valenwood, Skyrim, northern Morrowind, and Orsinium (literally translated as "Orc-Town"). They are noted for their unshakable courage in war and their unflinching endurance of hardships. Orcs have elven blood, but are sometimes grouped into Goblin-ken or considered to be Beastfolk.

In the past, Orcs were widely feared and hated by the other nations and races of Tamriel and were seen as nothing more than uncivilized beasts, savage barbarians. The Orcs are as civilized as any of the other races, having worked hard to be seen as actual people.[nb 1] They have slowly won acceptance in the Empire, in particular for their distinguished service in the Emperor's Legions. Many Orcs in the Third Era have actually received an Imperial education as a benefit of serving the Imperial Legion. Orc armorers are prized for their craftsmanship, and Orc warriors in heavy armor are among the finest front-line troops in the Empire, and are fearsome when using their berserker rage.

Orcs have a lifespan similar to that of humans, possibly because according to the Nords, Shor passed a curse Orkey had placed on the Nords onto the Orcs. Orc's blood has alchemical properties, and is also known as the "Rising Sun". While many Imperial citizens regard Orc society as rough and cruel, the Orcs consider themselves to be stern, fair, and just. The Orcs of the Iliac Bay region have developed their own language, known as Orcish, and have often had their own kingdom, Orsinium.

For more information, see the main lore article.

Snow ElvesEdit

The Snow Elves, also known as the Ancient Falmer or Ice Elves, are a proud race of mer with an unusually great aptitude for magic. They tend towards cold, remote regions, and inhabited most of Skyrim and some sites in High Rock, before being displaced by the Nords in the late Merethic Era and early First Era. Before that, they had a civilization which rivaled even the Altmer of the Summerset Isles. They resemble the Altmer in build, being white-haired, pale-skinned, and have very long lifespans, as well as a strong resistance to frost, to the point where they were immune to cold and could live comfortably in ice caverns. Legends say they favor spears and archery in combat.

Much as "High Elf" and "Wood Elf" are interchangeable with "Altmer" and "Bosmer" respectively, "Falmer" is really just another term for "Snow Elf". However, most people, even the Snow Elves themselves, demonstrated a preference for "Snow Elf". In this case, time eventually provided distinct meanings for the two terms. Many of the ancient Snow Elves were betrayed in a deal for asylum they struck with the Dwemer. The Dwemer forced their wards to subsist only on toxic fungi which twisted them into sightless slaves. It is the hideous descendants of these slaves, whom other Snow Elves called "the Betrayed", who have come to represent the Falmer to many of the people of Tamriel. People often refer to the grand ancient race of Skyrim elves as Snow Elves, and to their barbaric remnants as Falmer.

Few know that an unknown number of civilized Snow Elves rejected the Dwemer's deal. Even fewer know that some have survived, uncorrupted, into modern times. Knight-Paladin Gelebor of the Chantry of Auri-El, the only known and potentially last Snow Elf still alive today, embraced this distinction between "Falmer" and "Snow Elf" because of the negative connotations "Falmer" had accumulated over the millennia. Gelebor believes it is possible that there are some other isolated conclaves of surviving snow elves nestled elsewhere on Nirn.

For more information, see the main lore article.



  • ^  Mer means folk. Examples include Aldmer meaning First Folk,[17] or Chimer meaning Changed Folk.[18]
  • For a list of notable elves, see here.