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Altmer Part 2: The Highborns

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    The Highborns

    Having looked at the Aldmer and their transition to the Altmer we can properly understand the later better. Keeping in mind their roots as Aldmer the changes seem quite organic and are reflective of a growing and expanding society that requires more to sustain itself. This, unfortunately, is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the High Elves and one that is frowned upon. The elves of the Summerset Isles have created a unique culture quite different from many mainland civilizations by merit not just of accomplishments or deed, but simply in their interaction as a society which operates differently than what we expect.


    Nature of the Altmer

    The transition from Aldmeri culture to Altmer culture was subtle, but it nevertheless changed things by magnitudes. Many traditions were kept but underwent transitions and expansions to exhibit a more fully rounded society. Norms and miens that were common became solidified and codified, it's not a surprise that the Altmer, as a whole, revere stasis more than their Aldmeri predecessors (Sithis). But that means, 'what are the Altmer?'. In essence, the Altmer are culture, they come from a line of perfection and seek the best of all worlds. This might make them seem haughty or phlegmatic (Fav'te's War of Betony)but the truth is that their very nature, their lives, and their Aldmeri heritage make them into a culture that thrives on perfection.



    One of the big points of note is that elves live for a long time, and Altmer more than others on the whole. A human may life for 60 to 120 years, but Altmer live for 600+ years (De Rerums Dirennis), and in many cases, rather unimportant individuals can live for 800+ years (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition , the anonymous military attache YG's grandfather still alive and remembers person from first age). Barenziah states that elves can live for 1,000+ years or that their lives were restricted only to the length of an era. It's often very difficult to determine clear-set generations for the Altmer, with some gaps between parents and children being merely the space of 20-30 years, and others being decades or centuries. So the ages dealing with siblings, nephews, and other relatives can be extremely difficult to measure (De Rerums Direnni). As a point of interest, the oldest living being is likely an Altmer; while Divayth Fyr is commonly said to be the oldest individual, he acknowledged that he is only the older individual in the east and there were likely older in the west (Morrowind Dialogue).

    While the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition famously states that the Altmer practice infanticide, killing 9 in 10 children due to imperfections rather than having low birthrates, we have it from better sources that this is most certainly untrue. The Altmer, and elves in general, have a very low birth rate and a very tough time with conception. Even between members of the same race, conceiving a child is a difficult and often lengthy process. Elven women may have no children at all, they might have one, two is common (which essentially doesn't increase birth rates for a society), and at most possible an elven woman can bear 4 children through her entire 1,000+ year lifespan. Elves don't even become mature and fertile until they hit the age of 18-20 and even then half elves are common enough too (The Real Barenziah). Half elves tend to age like Bretons, and there are many half elves throughout the elven lands (Brief History of Tamriel). This means there are far fewer mer children than that of other races. As a common, and quite obvious note, High Elves are physically taller than most on average, exceeding most other races by about a good in height, have gold skin, but may have a variety of hair colors from black to blond (King Edward).



    The common complaint of people is 'why do elves think they're so much better than the other races?' The most blunt answer to that is: 'because they have time to perfect skills and detect subtleties which make them better in many pursuits'.

    One of the best examples is something of an inverse example. Eric of Guis, a first era ambassador and fervent anti-Mer ambassador of Reman Cyrodiil said that the elves around him:

    “They are decadent and self-obsessed, and prize form and their own brand of manners or style as their main value. Aware of their aristocratic position, they surround themselves with riches and treasures, the works of great artists and the finest of everything, but have no real appreciation for any of these things” ~Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition

    However, a few lines earlier he spoke of the elven pursuit for perfection and that he couldn't understanding it. Using this example of art we see that the Altmer aren't amongst the best sculptors in Tamriel, they are the best (Palla). The point of this is that they master their arts and can see the imperfections in designs far beyond what most could detect. They expect the best, and even breed their livestock and form horticulture to the best possible standard which happens to be uniformed (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition).

    Unfortunately, while it is true that the High Elves are possibly the most widespread and advanced civilization on Tamriel, much of their ancient writings were lost during the first and second eras when nearly all elven works were burned and destroyed by the first and early second Empires. This left only the Anuad and perhaps a dozen other works of literature intact while many of the great illustrious tapestries and sculptures were destroyed as well. What's left tends to be housed in expensive private collections, or were held at the Crystal Tower (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).



    Altmer themselves are formal which can make them seem cold and haughty at times. While humans focus on physical characteristics of individuals, elves value the stature and presence of an individual far more. Elves have a very high regard for proper order and commonly have uniformed styles and appearances. This causes Altmer society to be very complex albeit static for the same reasons, uniformed perfection. Humans of the past ages in particular, didn't seem to understand Altmeri society when interacting with it which makes them seem even more pompous and arrogant because of it. However, it's always been a question of respect for skills as well as stature (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Tiber Septim was well regarded as being an excellent tactician by the Altmer, as such he garnered a lot of respect though this doesn't translate out into admiration or affection. Likewise, the opposite can be true too given their strict codes on class and status based interpersonal relationships such as a master and prodigy. It is best noted once again the elves don't see anything or anyone as purely good, or purely evil, but laying between these two extremes (King Edward).

    Unfortunately, humans of the past and present tend to expect to be treated more highly and use informal manners which are rarely returned. In the past this has been noted to giving the impression that the High Elves were speaking in riddles (Of course, it doesn't help that the source was quite sure they were trying to ensorcer him with words of power in every day discussions, courtesy of the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). It also explains why merchants tend to be more cool when dealing with customers (The Buying Game). During longer more formal and respectful times of speech, Altmer expect and are expected to give sufficient pause between topics and points of conversation in order to properly assess if their advice or opinion is still solicited by others (King Edward). Most of these aspects still exist but some were forcefully changed and turned more hostile by the elves during the third age because of the forced assimilation of Altmer into Imperial culture (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). What becomes even more difficult is often an Altmer won't be able to determine the emotions and feelings of individuals who think they are being haughty because elves have a very difficult time adapting and interpreting the facial expressions and inflections of non elves. Furthermore, Altmer have a tough time in registering these tells even with other elves (the Firsthold Revolt).


    Society and Leadership:

    The Altmeri political and social sphere may not be inconceivably different from any other familiar groups; however, it still features enough differences to make it a potential hazard for the uninitiated. Certain customs and aspects operate similarly, and some are quite different by necessity.



    It's true that the Aldmeri society is complex, and during their tenures of power there has been two principle forms of government (we will discuss the Thalmor Council in our last section and focus on their traditional long standing method here). While the Summerset Isle has a single outward ruler in the form of the High King of Alinor, the High King rarely makes internal decisions. There is a very clear line between them and the various other local rulers such as the princes and barons (Elven Artifacts).

     Each major city is a city-state, for all intents and purposes, are all separate and independent of Alinor. Conflict is common between these great states, with diplomatic disputes that can boil over into open warfare (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). These large cities are ruled by kings ar queens. These rulers often send daughters as concubines (and presumably sons as concubinus and escorts) to the other royal families to foster relationships like many other Tamrielic dynasties. In fact, it is not only considered proper but tradition, though such a tradition could be abandoned though that would be peculiar in the popular opinion of its people. These rulers aren't merely political heads, they are also generally expected to lead or at least be instrumental in all aspects of military tactics. Having a monarch lead an army is not uncommon for any elven force regardless of what particular mer they are (Dunmer and Vivec, Falmer and the Snow Prince, Dwemer and Dumac Dwarf King, the Maormer notably had king Orgnum lead every major attack on the Summerset Isles for more than 4,000 years). It leads to a well rounded ability for their political leaders who are, nevertheless, still separated from the general populace and responsible only to the High King in certain respects. When it comes to local matters, the public is still consulted, but often it Elders of the community that are the representatives (The Real Barenziah).

    For the purposes of leadership, before the conquest of the Summerset Isles no non-Altmer was supposed to have a position of significant power (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). However, this doesn't mean that the Altmer are completely xenophobic. The restriction of Alinor during the period immediately prior to the Conquest of the 2nd-3rd era was an abnormality that lasted only 50 years, and even then the ports of Alinor remained open (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Dunmer and Bretons in particular were common on the island and were in many positions of relative power in non political matters, typically these positions were attached to the Temple or the magical center at the tower of Crystal-like-Law (The Sage, King Edward). A possible explanation for this is that the politics of the Altmer was supposed to be isolationist and for the vast majority of the 1st and second age, were exactly that rather than embroiled in regional disputes such as many other cultures had done. Punishment for elves is rarely execution, but banishment and exile to the mainland where isolation is no longer possible (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).



    Strangely, one of the largest changes from the Old Ways and the Aldmer to the Altmer has been the establishment of religion. Not only did the pantheon change, but the religious centers became far more codified and less ad-hoc communal. Temples are extremely common, and the leaders of these temples are called Arch-Priests. Beneath them are priests and friars, clergy who are all known as those 'of the cloth'. These are appointed from larger groups, (we aren't told the method, merely that it behaved in a very familiar fashion to our own western Christian religion, notably Roman Catholic Church). This includes weekly mass on Sundas, the incorporation of vestibules in clerical architecture, as well as the importance of larger cathedrals in their religion (Feyfolken)though smaller gender based convents are said to exist (King Edward) as are rural orders of Monks (The Firsthold Revolt). One of the notable aspects of the church that is hinted at is that there is an order of Inquisitors that functions in at least a vaguely similar way as the vigilants of Arkay (Venarus Vulpin's Journal).In a similar vein, worship of Auriel includes respect for one's mother and father in an attempt for them to teach their children properly. It's believed that Auri-El will help prevent some of the worst things from happening so long as his people are faithful and dutiful without resorting to laziness, disobedience, or poor decisions (King Edward). Again, it is the ideal for them and not seen as always perfect or immediate.

    Priests tend to outsource some writing to writers which provide space for a posted bulletin on local events, obituaries, temple events, rewritten sermon transcripts, and news for the parishioners that visit the church. These writing jobs are seen as a very safe source for continual employment and is seen as being equivalent but separate from the city civic services department. Of course, each Sundas funds for the running of churches come from the collection plates passed around during at services. There is one notable distinction in Altmeri Temples: race does not seem to matter, religion is the primary focus despite the often hyperbolic clergy (Feyfolken).

    Whether intentional or not, the parallels in the methodology of religion remains with regards to burial rites. Interment of bodies is still what is culturally acceptable (Ancestors and the Dunmer). Likewise, the use of necromancy is considered heinous in the Altmeri culture and is summarily punished on the Isles. However, there is some leeway given to research on the dead provided they are from noble or scholarly families and the research is used for practical purposes, notably, in finding methods to extend Altmeri life-spans (Corpse Preparation).


    The Public Sphere:

    The Altmer themselves focus on arts and progress, with instruments and music being common, but there is also a rather advanced culture including writs, a great number of complex contracts, book keeping (De Rerums Dirennis), and advanced lending systems fostered by banks (Charwick Kooniger letters). Leisure also plays a part, with meetings, socialization, and even more eclectic aspects such as hookah pipes being notably present in events (The Firsthold Revolt). Thanks to the rise of the Mages guild which spread all over the Summerset Isles after its creation in 2E 230 magical potions, enchanted items, and other items became commonplace in the Summerset isles and then soon all through Tamriel. Though earlier systems of enchanting and potion making were entirely automated, thus letting the unskilled merely select what they wanted and they would pay while machines did the work. Unfortunately it was found to be a safety hazard and Galarion himself destroyed such machines though not before they had made enchanted items common enough for the general public to use and not merely the aristocracy and intelligentsia (Feyfolken, Mannimarco King of Worms).


    Magic and Mettle:

    Altmeri prowess in the areas of military might and magical talent have been hotly contested in many arenas. On one hand, individuals may show a certain degree of skill, but blanket notions regarding specialization are often widely misplaced and only serve to show certain small traits of races in question. The Altmer in particular have always suffered from the notion that they are mages and nothing else. While there are certainly Altmeri mages geared towards combat, there is also other alternatives and cultural aspects on both sides of the divide with non militant mages and non mage militants.



    It's commonly held that High Elves are intrinsically more magical than other races, but this doesn't mean that all elves are mages. In fact, there are quite a number of novice mages which are not magically gifted, and certainly the guards and common soldiers are not considered overtly gifted. However, the elves also recognize that there is a certain amount of magical potential in all living things right down to the plants (De Rerums Direnni).

    For ages, the center of magic in the Summerset Isles and Tamriel in general was the tower Crystal-like-Law not far from Firsthold. Here was a great building dedicated to magical talent and philosophical searching which they believe is intertwined. New initiates, called Neonates (Dubious Tales of the Crystal Tower), are expected not only to read spells, but to simply engage in conversation, theories, and quiet reading. Magic is best understood after periods of contemplation, reflection, or weeping (This later one can be likely best explained by a passage in the Changed Ones which relates that weeping is the response to memories and contemplations of the Sundering where the spirits were cut off from one another). Likewise, the people here are not all mages, but include non talented guards, and visitors. Even mages often follow aspects of philosophy and meditation without fully devoting themselves wholly to magic. Perhaps one of the most peculiar notes here is that the first spell that almost all elves learn is, in fact, healing though this is not the same across all races. Of course, the Altmer of the Crystal tower are noted for having understood the relationship between metals and their effectiveness casting spells. While it may be only a slight difference between the two, it is enough to make the standard clothing of the Crystal tower consist of only robes, with a staff and a simple sidearm (King Edward). Most modern armies, including the pre and post Septim Dynasty Altmer have integrated support consisting of specialized cores of troops, battlemages, healers, and mystics, but certain skills are present in the general population as well without needing to resort to military training.

    One of the most overlooked but confusing facets of Altmeri magic is that they were the first to have individuals reach Aetherium and return. The mythic Sun Birds of Alinor undertook expeditions to Aetherius where they gathered and mined materials from beyond reality and brought it back to form the Orrery of Firsthold. However, because of the sheer enormity of the costs associated with reaching the plane of magic via magic, these seem to have been discontinued (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).


    Mettle: Methods of Altmeri Warfare

    Militarily the Altmer are considered sophisticated soldiers often relying on tactics and maneuverability over sheer force (The Great War). If the Altmer were incapable of defeating a foe whether an army or a monster, they would simply fluidly avoid it (De Rerums Direnni). One of the greatest challenges for the Altmer in a military context comes from their cultural attitude of stasis and order: adapting to new situations or experiencing something beyond their methodical planning is difficult if not impossible for them to cope with. This leaves them at a distinct disadvantage that their natural intelligence and experience can turn into a virulent and severe form of stubbornness (Father of the Niben).

    This doesn't seem to have changed significantly through the ages. Early Aldmer were noted for being exceptionally sophisticated archers, and the lineage of weaponry passed down to the Altmer. Even early bows were constructed of alternating layers of horn and wood, making composite long bows threaded with silver cord. Even at thousands of years old these artifacts are still extremely lethal (Father of the Niben). Altmer, likewise, have a great deal of metallic thread in uniforms and are exceptional artisans for military equipment as well. Dwemer metal was considered exquisite because of its alloy, but high quality Altmeri metallurgical alloys were just as capable (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition) while the shape made it effective without sacrificing aesthetics (Dwarves). Of course, elven armor and weapons tend to be made out of moonstone mixed with iron, though this may be replaced with quicksilver for a gilded appearance though the Quicksilver melts at a far lower temperature making it difficult to work with. The method and materials behind it were a closely guarded secret until the 7th century of the 2nd era where the Dunmer slave Ulvul Llaren under master smith Nuulion and revealed the secret at large as revenge (Light Armor Repair, Light Armor Forging, Forge Hammer and Anvil).

    Military organization and regulations both seem to be universal despite each city-state providing their own forces (Epic of the Grey Falcon). Altmeri armies tend to be made up of a solid core of militia levies (The Firsthold Revolt) that are made up of properly trained individuals with accompanying support in the form of mages as well as musicians. While most Altmeri armies consist of Altmeri troops, there mercenaries hired from abroad (Epic of the Grey Falcon). More specialized support from mages and battlemages tend to be funded by the individual governments with only several dozen being common in holds yet commanding a great deal of power. Similarly, palatial troops are separated from the common military likely to prevent revolutions and rebellions from affecting both arms of the military service (The Firsthold Revolt).

    Altmeri navies tend to value the exact same concept as their land forces and operate fleets of swift craft typically lighter in displacement then their Imperial counterparts (Velehk Sain Pirate of the King of the Abecean). These same ships often have many sails, are equipped with forecastles for boarding and positional advantages over ships closer to the waterline as they make good use of archers (The Epic of the Grey Falcon). Navies are made up of fleets sent by individual city states and is appears that they are funded by their monarchs given the title 'Royal Navies' (The Wolf Queen, Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). When it comes to maritime tactics, thanks to repeated assaults by the Sload, Redguard pirates, Bosmeri pirates, and in particular the incessant and costly Maormeri attacks, the Altmeri have cultivated a large and extremely capable navy that may be a contender for the best in Tamriel (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition, Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). One of the notable features of Altmeri vessels is the inclusion of life boats with enough provisions for 10 days (Epic of the Grey Falcon). The second is that Altmeri vessels seem to have a vague but effective method of navigation based on waystone shards which follow laylines of magic and power in Nirn' surface (Father of the Niben).


    Psijics: The Last of the Aldmer

    One of the most enigmatic groups in Tamriel is, and always has been the Psijic Order (or more properly the order of PSJJJJ). As they comprise one of the oldest if not the oldest monastic group on the continent, it gives rise to a far reaching history and a surprising amount of foreign intervention that goes often unseen and unrecorded. Certain incidents, such as Uriel V's disastrous invasion of Akavir can be partially linked to them, as can some of the great saving graces such as halting a Daedric invasion at the source in the Cyrodiilic Empire (2920: The Last Year of the First Era). Nevertheless they remain enigmatic, elusive, and complex.

    It should be noted that I've used canonical information for the Psijics, if you want more extra canonical (IE not in game or in provided book) information I suggest looking at the Imperial Library's website article. Of course, be ready for a great deal of metaphysic thanks to the talented Michael Kirkbride.


    Order of the Greycloaks:

    Psijics themselves are a religious group, the Old Way as we have discussed was the entire Aldmeri culture which included religious ways and values. However, it is not established in the same way as the Altmeri Temples. It is a Monastic Order often regarded as the oldest on Tamriel (On Artaeum) that started as a revolt from the change of the Aldmer to Altmer. They were formed by a group of elders, and called themselves publicly the Keepers of the Old Ways of the Aldmeris. Thus, the Mystics moved from the mainland to one of the outlying Islands of the Summerset Isles, Artaeum. While they were not part of society, and did view the change as corruption, they were not enemies to the Altmeri leadership. Rather, they acted as guiding sages and councilors content to have merely sequestered themselves from the mainlands (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Until the rise of the Mages guild in the 3rd century of the Second Era, the Psijics were the sole consortium of organized mages on Tamriel (The Final Lesson).

    The Earliest surviving written articles of the Psijics come from 1E 20, though they were well established in Artaeum by this time, however it gives a sense of age to this group. While they are traditionally controlled by a Ritemaster, notably the Scholar Iachesis from the first to the second Era, but are also governed by the Psijic Council. The disappearance of Artaeum after the creation of the Mages Guild, and subsequent return 500 years later had dissolved the inner leadership and no one could or would say what happened to them. Now they are ruled by Loremasters, the current head being thought to still be Celarus who has guided the Psijics for about 450 years (On Artaeum). Given the egalitarian nature of Aldmer and the nature of the Council itself, titles may reflect roles and not necessarily infer a hierarchy based on title.

    While there is no official ambassadors allowed on the island, and visitors are quite rare unless called for, there are contacts available throughout the Summerset Isles. Most notably, contacts can be found in the towns of Potansa and Rucibae (On Artaeum). Despite this, they do accept and seek out talented individuals for study and training in their arts regardless of race or creed. This also means they have a very low number of individuals joining their ranks, through the second era until 3E 430 there were only 17 new member admitted to the order, but during the lead up to the Oblivion crisis in 430-432 there were 30 new initiates. Each of these is given the distinctive Grey Cloak that marks them out as a member of the Psijic Order, and from where they get their name (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).


    The Psijics are not focused on being revolutionaries, but rather, a group councilors, diplomats, information gatherers, and use the instruments at their disposal to cripple, humiliate, imprison, or impoverish those they deem wicked. That said, they also stop short of killing individuals.

    Like all elves, the notions of good and evil are complex and the Psijics rightly see people as being capable of change. This is strictly because they believe there is always a deeper layer to actions and happenings which are governed by the ancestors that guide the universe. In essence, to the Psijics, absolutely everything happens for a reason. The primary way in which they do this is by having their members go out to seek close advisory ties to one particular person of some power or influence. However, they themselves must choose carefully who they ally themselves with. If they are given an order from this individual which is contrary to the Old Ways or would do something to bring shame upon the Psijics or their Lord, they have one of only three choices: follow the orders and be damned to the dark forces of the world (Daedric or otherwise); refuse and bring shame on themselves, their lord, and the Psijic order and face exile from Artaeum; or to summarily kill themselves (The Old Ways).

    Their own tools of mysticism allow them several unique abilities compared to other mages. Rites such as that of Mowita performed on the 2nd of Hearth Fire or Vidlyd on the 1st of Second Seed are specifically designed to debilitate evil spirits and empower good ones. While many of the rites they perform are based out of Ceporah Tower, an ancient structure that predates the elves arrival on the Isles by several centuries (The Old Ways), they all possess special talents for long distance, silent communication remarkably similar to the Dwarves 'Calling' ability (Charvimidium). Likewise, there is one particular type of magic that the Psijics seem to hold over any other group, the ability to perform complex and specific divination (Hope of the Redoran).

    Being a Psijic takes a great degree of dedication and effort; not only does it require religious devotion, but the magic of mysticism takes ten times longer to learn than the other traditional schools (On Mysticism). Because of the power they wield, the Psijics are also notoriously methodical and laborious in their preparations as full understanding of the methods takes precedents over the results (Feyfolken). Being a Psijic requires a steady control of emotions and reactions, to study and properly dissect the reason behind events rather than strictly reacting to them which can present itself as an impersonal, emotionless, and stoic mien (2920: The Last Year of the First Era). However, they are not a perfect order, and individuals such as Galerion the mystic, once one of their most talented members, called them callous (Galerion the Mystic). It likewise takes them a very long time to act, and they themselves are poor at perceiving emergent threats (Mannimarco The King of Worms).


    Hopefully this can, once again, partially explain some of the common complaints and oddities revolving around Altmeri culture. While certain elements that have fostered or at least contributed to these developments will be explained a little later, this should at least give some indication of what to look for as well in the following sections.

    ← Part 1: Creation, The Aldmer, and the Old Ways Part 3: On the Blessed Isles →



  • June 15, 2015

    This is a fantastic read, I must say.  However, I do have one question - simple yet it may be a bit odd.

    Regarding the physical traits listed for an Altmer, it says that their hair can be a variety of colors - but would brown or dark brown be a color that could be seen as typical in their typical range of hair colors, or would brown-haired Altmer be seen as rarities of sorts?  I ask this because typically, in the various Elder Scrolls games one would see a High Elf with either blonde, white, grey, even reddish hair - some would have brown hair sure, but it seems nearly non-existent in Skyrim.  Although, I could have just been missing sight of it...

    If anyone can answer this, I'd appreciate it.  :)

  • September 13, 2015


  • Member
    September 13, 2015

    I'd say you are correct but ESO disproves that notion. There were a lot of Altmer with dark hair there IIRC.

  • September 13, 2015

    True, I remember seeing images of NPC Altmer with dark hair colors.  However, ESO also lacks such dark hair colors for the Altmer players to use - that adds to the confusion.

    And as I said in my original post-question there have been Altmer in previous games (primarily Oblivion from what I've seen) who have dark hairs like a dark brown shade.  Caranya and Salmo for example have a dark brown hair color - although for all we know they could have had 'less than pure' Altmeri ancestry that carried over darker shades of hair color.  

    Still, I'm guessing the notion for Altmer hair colors is that they're in the same range as the Humans (Nords, Imperials, and Bretons at least) but with white and blonde being the most common?   And thank you for replying Vazgen.  Once more, I just want to say I really do enjoy this article on the Altmer.  

  • Member
    September 13, 2015

    Yeah, pretty much. The thing with Skyrim is that there are very few Altmer there. I found one with dark brown hair - Minorne. I think you're on to something with a mixed ancestry idea. The darker shades are probably a result of mixed race breeding somewhere along the bloodline.

    The article is great, shame Vix isn't around anymore. A huge part of the lore group articles are written by him 

  • September 13, 2015

    That's pretty impressive.  :)

    As for Minorne possibly having a mixed ancestry somewhere, it seems likely.  However, there's one Altmer (whose name escapes me) I know that seems to be of relatively pure blood in the Dominion in ESO.  He has dark-ish brown hair - and if he -is- a pureblooded Altmer, that might make add a bit less to the theory of mixed ancestry causing the darker shades, same with Caranya from Oblivion.  Although...it could also be similar to an Imperial with a Breton/Nord-esque pallor of their skin, or a Nord with, say, black hair - it's possible for even those of relatively 'pure' ancestry in their home province, but their 'racial images' such as what's seen in Oblivion are dominant genes in them.  And if they're of a mixed ancestry, it could simply bring the more recessive traits out and  increase the likeliness of them appearing in the bloodline.

  • September 13, 2015

    It might be that Altmer have different features depending on where they come from. Both the Chimer and Ayleids seemed to have had darker almost bronze-ish complections compared to your average Altmer. So maybe in some areas darker hair is more common for Altmer.

    Also it might even be a fashion thing, maybe the Altmer dye their hair. 

  • September 13, 2015

    That's always a possibility - seeing as they take pride in their appearance, they're bound to have something along the lines of hair dye as well as many other beauty products of sorts created by alchemists/merchants of the Isles.

    And bringing up the Chimer and Ayleids - maybe.  They could have gained their darker complexions and hair colors from their transition to Resdayn/Morrowind and Cyrodiil respectively from Summerset, but it could also be a regional thing as well.

    I just wish Bethesda could have clarified a few things - from the matter of Altmer hair colors and keeping them consistent, to the naming style of Bretons - both of which seemingly flop around each game, as much as I like both of those races.

    All this chatting reminds me though - I have to try and think of and/or find names for four, dark brown-haired, brown eyed Nord Mages, three of which are going to be Necromancers.  ...Odd, I know, but it has a lot of potential - especially if the Order of the Black Worm had influence in provinces aside from Cyrodiil and High Rock (which I think is confirmed for Skyrim at least with ESO).  

  • September 14, 2015

    Elves don't even become mature and fertile until they hit the age of 18-20 and even then half elves are common enough too (The Real Barenziah). Half elves tend to age like Bretons, and there are many half elves throughout the elven lands (Brief History of Tamriel).

    What are the sentences in those sources that verify these claims? I have read them on occasional and have apparently missed the key information.