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I Hate The Falmer

    • 641 posts
    July 8, 2017 11:54 AM EDT

    I hate the Falmer. I hate them because of how much wasted potential they are. I am a fan of elves. Especially elves presented in a non-traditional fantasy way and I feel like Beth could have done pretty well with the Falmer but instead, they ruined it by doing a big wink and nod to Morrowind fans by making the Falmer just Dunmer 2.0 but less interesting. The Falmer are an offshoot faction of elves who war with humans, team up with the Dwemer, backstabbing ensues then the Dwemer disappear and the Falmer come out the other end ugly grey-skinned elves who farm giant insects, maker armour out of chitin and live around giant mushrooms.

    Don't get me wrong tho, I love the Dunmer. They are my favourite race and I think Morrowind is the greatest RPG ever made and I wish Bethesda would make more ES games like it. But when I say I want more games like Morrowind, I don't mean I want them to look like Morrowind, I mean I want them to give me the same feelings Morrowind did when I first played it. I don't want repeats or call-backs and I feel like if Beth hadn't leaned so far into the "oh aren't they kind of like the Dunmer wink wink and oh here are the Dwemer again" then they could have fleshed out another unique culture in the TES world.

    A race going through a radical change and becoming pretty much a new one is an interesting trope in TES and I think a race of blind nocturnal tribal elves who live in hollowed out glaciers is super interesting. The Falmer first appeared as the "Ice Tribes" in Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar and Shadowkey and I think Bethesda should have built on that instead of reworking them into insect herding Dunmer knock-offs that all live in Dwemer ruins. Some of them should populate Dwemer ruins in Skyrim of course, but the original lore that the Falmer lived in cities made of ice was much more interesting and there is a whole barren ice field in the north of Skyrim where Bethesda could have built an underground tribal civilisation of nocturnal elves.

    They also could have built an interesting religion around them as well. The Ancient Snow Elf religion is pretty much just the standard TES Altmer religion but they could have done something more interesting if they played with their origin a bit. We don't know anything about the origin of the Snow Elves other than they probably weren't there when the proto-Nords were first born on the slopes of Snow-Throat but they were there when they returned from Atmora. The legends say that there were Elves native to Atmora but the Nords killed them all but what if the surviving Elves fled Atmora to Tamriel and set up shop in Skyrim and then thousands of years later the Nords return and the same things happen all over again? Beth could have hinted at this by having connections between the Ancient Snow Elf religion and the Ancient Nordic one. Maybe even make it a pre-schism one. Some type of amalgamation between the Skaaldic and Psijic Order philosphies. It would be super intresting and ironic for the Elves to have the last bastion of old Atmoran culture. The post-Dwemer Falmer relgion could have also been cool. The Dwemer say the blinded the Snow Elves so that they would find enlightenment. So the Falmer relgion could some weird philosphy based on tones with traces of the old shamanistic relgion.

    Something TES is usually quite good at is deconstructing a traditional fantasy race and putting there own spin on it. For instance, belive it or not, Tolkien's orginal insperation for his Dwarves was actually the Jews. TES regocnised this and whent whole hog and made their Dwarves ancient Babalonians and gave them their own spin on it. I feel like they could have also done this with the Falmer but doing a spin on their own insperation. The insperation for the Falmer are the Drow. No, not the Dark Elf Drow from D&D but the IRL Drow from real life Scottish myth. The Drow or Trow are ugly nocturnal elf like beings who lived underground and kidnapped people and were also obsessed with music. In folklore it's said that the ancient Pictish clans of Scotland became the Drow after they dissapered. Imagine the Falmer clans living in underground iceforts and wearing starfrost woad facepaint. I think that would have been more intrestin than what we got anyway.

    • 1356 posts
    July 8, 2017 3:05 PM EDT

    Interesting subject for a debate, and you raise good points. As you say, a "race going through a radical change and becoming pretty much a new one is an interesting trope in TES" as we see it in many forms in the setting. Minotaurs becoming beasts, elves becomming orcs, and the Snow Elves fall from grace. However, my only issue with anything Falmer is that their decline is less mythic, has less ambiguity. I like to think their decline is more the result of an opposing cultural dominance changing the music of the Towers. Instead we got the "poisoned and blinded by Dwarves."

    That said, what else we got more than made up for it in my books.

    For we were given emotional resonance. To walk through the Forgotten Vale as that hauntingly beautiful music plays, follow in the foosteps of long-dead elves and learn their ancient rituals, and finally to mourn as we read the Diary of Faire Agarwen... We were given feels. Thinking and reading the lore is fun, but when TES Skyrim is sometimes accused of being shallow in comparrison to TES Morrowind, the story of the Snow Elves fall from grace belies the criticism.

    Written in the slave pens of te Dwemer, using water collected in a bowl as a method of crude timekeeping, Faire Agarwen writes...

    Seventh Marking, Tenth Kulniir
    In the night I find it difficult not to focus on times past. There are moments in my rest when I still hear the laughter of Young Ones at play in the valley. Other times I see the pale flicker of happy moments which were once so common in the land of the Snow Elves. I try not to dwell on these memories too long. Often our surroundings make it impossible to dwell on any happiness. We have been locked together in such close quarters for so long we grow tired of each other's company. Even the strongest of us have faltered with nothing to do but think on what is lost. I wake each day to forlorn faces and am reminded of where we are and all we have left behind. We are all yearning for a day when we can emerge from hiding and walk freely in the light once more. But I fear we are losing all hope that such a day will ever come.

    That one passage, juxtaposed over the pristine valley of the Forgotten Vale as the light of the stars and moon shine upon the ruins of glory, it is hard to find fault with Bethesda. They gave us poetry, and a civilisation we can compare and contrast with modern Altmer so as to be accessible to all but with depth and layers to make their tale one felt in every corner of Auriel's Sanctuary.

    • 641 posts
    July 8, 2017 3:59 PM EDT

    The translation of Calcelmo's Tablet does hint that there was something mythic about what the Dwemer did to the Snow Elves.

    And as your vision clouds, as the darkness sets in, fear not.
    Know only our mercy and the radiance of our affection, which unbinds your bones
    to the earth before, and sets your final path to the music of your new eternity.

    I think that Falmer are in a pupal stage right now and their culture will evolve into something different, something more, over time. However, we won't get to see what that is since I doubt we will be going back to Skyrim in a game.

    I agree about the Forgotten Vale. It's one of the best depictions Beth have done on how haunting a fallen civilisation can be and the diary just reinforces that. It's just I wish it was less giant bugs, mushrooms and Dwemer. We have all that with the Dunmer already. Just imagine under the barren snowfields of The Pale, carved into the glaciers, there were Falmer ruins. They start off as normal, rundown ruins but the farther you go into them, the more they change, mirroring the change that was done to them. And it could have been real weird, what would a city built by nocturnal blind elves even look like?

    • 425 posts
    July 9, 2017 10:41 AM EDT

    Skyrim just seems to have a penchant for nameless enemies - ones with little complexity or moral ambiguity. It makes them easy to kill yes, but at the same time is a massive waste. Draugr = zombies, which everyone loves to kill, Dwemer Automatons are just robots which I've been killing in sci fi games for years, Falmer are weird creepy mutants, which, unless you read into the lore, gives you very little remorse when you strike them down.

    But from a lore perspective (but keep in mind that my knowledge of most lore is general at best), I think its hard for Bethesda to create a massive fall from grace, with persecution and slavery yadda yadda yadda, while still keeping an interesting culture. I mean it could be argued that the downtrodden often form an independent culture all of their own, but at the same time its not hard to imagine a people scrambling for survival would forget their love for music and even religion. I mean look at the Argonians, they're one of the most downtrodden races in the ES universe, and their culture is also shrouded in mystery. It's just hard to create culture around such a subject (especially as taking inspiration from our history could be... sensitive).

    At the very least I would've liked to see more evidence of Snow Elves at their prime. Like the Dwemer with their massive halls and towering automatons, an occasional ruin with clearly Snow Elf roots would be refreshing on Skyrim's landscape. Then again, a lot of the history of the Nords, the inhabitants of Skyrim, are in massive disrepair (just look at Saarthal, once the CAPITAL of Skyrim) so if they put so little effort into keeping around their own history why would they do different for the Falmer?

    • 122 posts
    July 18, 2017 10:39 AM EDT

    Just saw this now, and it reminded me from a line about Rieklings from the Bloodmoon DLC. To quote UESP:

    "Foul creatures. Some call them the Falmer, claim they are related to the other elves. This I do not know, but they are vile. Some are intelligent enough to speak, but they speak only nonsense." — A Skaal

    Now, I'm no expert on Lore, but what are the possibilities that the two have some relation, perhaps even sharing a common ancestor (Maybe even the non-Smeagol Snow Elves, like Gelebor)? Even just by looking at their architecture and a bit of their culture, the two do seem to have similarities (just replace Chaurus with Bristleback), so would it be too much of stretch to say that they could have "evolved" from the same group of people?

    And yeah, I know this is probably more suited for the Lore group, but since this discussion's about the Falmer, I thought I'd bring it up here.


    This post was edited by Caesar at July 18, 2017 10:39 AM EDT
    • Moderator
    • 80 posts
    July 19, 2017 3:18 PM EDT

    , team up with the Dwemer, A little ways off the mark my friend, the snow elves sought refuge with the Dwemer and were betrayed, forced into slavery and blinded by a fungus fed to them without their knowledge by their so called saviours hardly teaming up.

    Still, the Falmer give me plenty of reasons to hate them, poison for one, poison on every strike without reloading their weapons, they capture people, that not being bad enough they then force some into slavery a mild fate compared to those that are fed to the Chaurus they keep as pets, yes a real friendly bunch, they also swarm around their enemies like wasps in a frenzy, oh did I mention Poison I really hate that about them.