Elder Scrolls Lore » Discussions

Lore Event: Defining the Bosmer

  • Member
    March 17, 2016

    Collaboration work by Karver, Thorien and Spotted Fawn

    So here we are, an informal but detailed article about cannibalistic tree-hugging hippies, but we want you to know that there is so much more to the Bosmer than you probably thought. In terms of richness, their culture is on par with the High Elves of Alinor, and is sometimes just as weird as the Khajiit´s. The purpose of this article is to help you gain a better understanding of the Bosmer and their view of the world around them. So brace yourselves for the rich cultural knowledge about the most underestimated race in TES.


    Is there any other way to start than from the beginning? And the beginning is Y’ffre - or Jephre - who is the single most important figure to Bosmeri people. Who is Y’ffre, and more importantly who is he to the Bosmer? And how did the race come to be?

    Y’ffre is one of the most powerful et’Ada who sacrificed himself for the creation of Mundus, to become the first of Ehlnofey, the Earthbones. He appears as a god of nature in the pantheons of all the Elven races and the Khajiit, but strangely isn’t known to any of the races of Men, with the only exception for the Bretons (who might not count, as they have been strongly influenced by Altmer and most likely know about Y’ffre solely from them).

    The Elves often call Y’ffre the Singer or the Storyteller for he is strongly associated with songs and stories as a mythical expression of his role in the Creation. According to Bosmeri Creation Myth, at the beginning of time, when the whole world was in chaos, nothing held shape and all living creatures, plants, animals, even the Elves, were formless beasts, constantly shapeshifting. Y’ffre brought order to the land as he transformed himself into the first of the Ehlnofey and the laws of nature were established. He is said to have told stories, shaping the nature and given names to every being, solidifying their place in the world so they knew their form and no longer changed shape.

    The first tale was of the Green, the forest and all the plants in it. The second was of the Elves and they took the form they have now. He gave them power to tell stories, but warned them against trying to shape themselves or the Green. Shapeshifting and destruction of the forest were forbidden. Instead he taught them how to ask the Green to provide them with shelter and a safe passage, as long as they respected it. This is the essence of the most important element of the Bosmeri culture, which is the Green Pact.

    The curious thing about the Green Pact is that it applies only to the forest of the Valenwood. It raises a question: is that land special to Y’ffre for some mysterious reason?


    Nothing encompasses the Bosmer race more than the Green Pact. Also called the Treaty of Frond and Leaf (Arboreal Architecture), this religious doctrine forbids the Bosmer from damaging Valenwood, called the Green, and its rules (as told in a Bosmeri creation fable The Ooze), are simple:

    • Do not harm the forest.
    • Do not eat anything made from plant life.
    • Eat only meat.
    • When you conquer your enemies, eat their flesh. Do not leave them to rot.
    • Do not kill wastefully.
    • Do not take on the shape of beasts. You are Wood Elves. Your form is sacred.

    The third rule is commonly referred to as the Meat Mandate, which requires exactly what you expect it to, except the Wood Elves are not limited to only ‘game’ animals. The Meat Mandate invokes ritual cannibalism, in that slain enemies and brethren are not allowed to sink into the ground, but must be consumed before three days pass. (War Customs of the Bosmer) However, this practice has fallen out of favor by the 2nd Era, and seems to only be upheld by the strictest of tribes deep in the Green; how seriously the Meat Mandate is to be taken varies from tribe to tribe.

    The Green Pact touches nearly every aspect of the Bosmer culture, from the way they build their cities and towns, what kinds of weapons may be used, to what types of food they eat, and in exchange can even provide them with certain advantages over the other races of Tamriel.

    In terms of architecture, no timber from the Green must be used, though closer to the coastlines and rivers, you may find some wooden dwellings or structures built where trading for lumber is possible (Arboreal Architecture). Instead, the Bosmer have a way of shaping the Green into suitable abodes in a Pact magic process that is ritualistic and private, outsiders are seldom permitted to see this Pact magic up close and the exact details are unknown. (Pact Magic Explained) In the graht-oak cities of Valenwood, the Bosmer make clever use of platforms and limbed pathways woven together from the branches of the trees, to the point where the Bosmer rarely need to touch the ground at all. (Arboreal Architecture) Bosmer homes are cleverly hidden within the canopies of the graht-oaks, and are as much a part of the Green as the very trees themselves.

    Despite the shortcomings put in place by the Green Pact on the growth of the Bosmeri as a whole, they have managed to thrive and adapt to these restrictions. Bone, resin and sinew are common materials for use of construction, artwork, household items and even children’s toys. The imagination of the Wood Elves combined with their ability to find loopholes in their own Pact makes for some interesting creations.

    Taken from a list of ESO Valenwood items, here are a few examples:

    • Corundum Tooth File
    • Bone dishware
    • Amber buttons - made from graht-oak resin
    • monkeybone bug tweezers
    • Sturdy Wood Elf Waterskin - forged from an actual wild pig’s stomach.
    • Baby Ape Dress-Up Doll, with Clothing - Mummified baby ape with painted-on Elven features and a varied wardrobe of rich and exotic doll garments.


    "There is no such thing as 'just a tale'".

    Something this important to the Bosmeri way of life cannot exist without consequences. You must be wondering what happens to those who break the Pact. In the beginning, not all Bosmer were willing to give up their shapeshifting and follow Y’ffre’s will. These Bosmer, called Oathbreakers, did not benefit from Y’ffre’s gifts and were instead cast into the Ouze—primordial tar-pits left over from the formless Ooze of the beginning. The Oathbreakers were reduced to slumbering spirits until such a time comes when they are given permission to awaken.

    Such punishment awaits any Bosmer who violates the Green or shifts their shape. Legend has it that their names will be erased from the tale Y’ffre is telling, replaced only with silence, and their souls trapped in the Ouze forever.

    Oathbreakers of Ouze Sunk Into Ouze The Ooze: A Fable


    "Every monster in the world that has ever been comes from a previous Hunt. Those Bosmer that go Wild, they do not return."

    To the Green Pact rule that forbids the Bosmer from taking a bestial shape, there exists a single terrifying exception. In every Bosmer lies knowledge of the Chaos times, when nothing held shape or had a name; called the Wild Hunt, this powerful defense mechanism is used in protection of the Green and to dole out justice in times of need. The Bosmer people, after the right rituals are performed, become a savage, formless amalgamation of beasts that devours everything and everyone on in its path. For the Bosmer that undergo the transformation into the Wild Hunt, there is no recovery. Bosmer use this only in the most dire circumstances, and the Wild Hunt is seen as a necessary evil. Still harboring doubts about the Wild Hunt? Just ask King Borgas. Borgas of Winterhold was the High King of Skyrim in the 1st Era, and made the mistake of trying to urge a joint war against the Bosmer. He was killed by the Wild Hunt while traveling to Cyrodiil.

    A Dance in Fire, Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition: The Wild Remain: Valenwood, Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition: The Aldmeri Dominion

    While Y’ffre is the most important deity for the Bosmer, their pantheon also includes other gods of the Aldmeri pantheon as well as other deities, seemingly “borrowed” from the pantheons of other races like Imperial, Nordic and Khajiiti. The Imperial sources suggest that the Bosmer worship the Eight, but outside the Empire Bosmer don’t accept the limitation of Divines to eight and some versions of the Bosmeri pantheon even include Daedric Princes.




    Y’ffre, the Storyteller, the Spirit of the Now, the God of Song and Forest, the first of the Ehlnofey, the primary deity of the Bosmeri pantheon.

    Auri-El, the King of Aldmer, the God of Time, the chief god of Elven pantheons. Auri-El is the soul of Anui-El, who, in turn, is the soul of Anu the Everything. He ascended to Aetherius in full observance of his followers so that they might learn the steps needed to escape the mortal plane. Most of the Elves claim direct descent from Auri-El.

    Mara, the Goddes of Love, patron of the bountiful earth, and source of mortal compassion and understanding.

    Arkay, the god of burials and funeral rites, and is generally associated with cyclical occasions, such as the seasons and life/death. He is staunchly opposed to necromancy and all forms of the undead.

    Xarxes, the God of ancestry and secret knowledge. He began as a scribe to Auri-El, and has kept track of all Aldmeri accomplishments, large and small, since the beginning of time.

    Stendarr, the God of compassion and righteous rule. In early Aldmeri legends, Stendarr is the apologist of Men.

    Z’en, the God of Toil, the Bosmeri god of payment in kind, he is also present in Argonian and Akaviri mythologies and seemingly was introduced into Valenwood by Kothringi sailors. Today there are no known worshippers of Z'en, most of his followers having been wiped out by the Knahaten Flu.

    Baan Dar, the Bandit God, the deity of thieves and beggars, borrowed from the Khajiit.

    Herma-Mora, the Woodland Man, the Prince of Fate, the Lord of Secrets, the Demon of Knowledge, he is not known for being good or evil, but for holding both destructive and beneficial knowledge. His Bosmeri worshippers insist he is not to be confused with the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. Others deride this assertion.

    Jone and Jode, the Little Moon God and the Big Moon God, the Aldmeri gods of the Moons, the spirits of fortune, both good and bad.

    Hircine, the Huntsman, the Father of Manbeasts, the lord of all lycanthropes. Many Bosmer worship him despite the obvious conflict between Hircine and Y’ffre.

    Clavicus Vile, the Prince of Wishes, Trickery and granting of power through invocations and pacts, he is accompanied by a shapeshifting dog named Barbas.

    Lorkhan, the Trickster God who convinced the other et’Ada to create Mundus. To the Elves, he is the most unholy of all higher powers, as he forever broke their connection to Aetherius. After he was defeated by Trinimac and Auri-El shot his heart into the sea, he is bound to forever wander through creation.

    Sources: The Ooze: A Fable, Varieties of Faith: The Wood Elves, Monomyth, Of Jephre



    "You say the world ends at what you can see with your eyes. We say, that is where the world begins."

    Bosmer, as people, are mostly a divided nation, which consists of various tribes and few cities. While the world outside of Valenwood thinks about them as cannibalistic tree hugging hippies savages, the truth is that Bosmer are highly intelligent, curious and rational people, with a unique culture that almost rivals that of Khajiit - who can easily be considered the weirdest race in TES.

    As mentioned, Valenwood is full of Bosmeri tribes, but we want you to understand that a Bosmeri tribe is something different than what you’re picturing. For Bosmer, a tribe is any place where several families can live. For example, in Elden Root, the main city of Valenwood, where the King is seated, every Bosmer can be considered a member of “Elden Root Tribe”.

    First things first, Tribe and Clan are two different things. Clan means family, so bigger tribes can have multiple clans (like Elden Root), and the opposite is true; a smaller tribe can consist of only one clan.

    Tribe and Clan2.png

    Also, Bosmer are not nomadic (the exception being the wandering city of Falinesti), they build villages and towns, places to settle, and these settlements are their tribes, and a tribe doesn’t have to consist of just one big family. More often than not, they don’t. Seeing that the Bosmer are the most plentiful Mer in Tamriel, no other elves reproduce as fast or as freely as they do (Bosmer are somewhat more easygoing in regards of love and lovemaking), so it’s less common for a tribe to consist of only a single family.

    Moving on from the tribe structure, we would like to break one myth here, and that is about Bosmer and necromancy. We’re sure you heard about how Bosmer hate when someone resurrects bodies of their relatives, right? Well, it's not completely true. Look at this:

    I must write a treatise on necromancy and the Bosmer. Their people are not as perturbed as others by the sight of deceased relatives walking around performing menial tasks. Indeed, they experienced no small amount of pleasure seeing particularly lazy ancestors doing something constructive for a change.

    Perhaps it is the lack of flesh, though I suspect it has more to do with the Bosmeri sense of humor.

    Seems like Bosmer don't mind their dead relatives walking around. It isn’t as big a cause for alarm as we previously thought.

    There are, however, a few things you don´t do when you're talking with Bosmer:

    • Do NOT ask the Bosmer about adding vegetables to their recipes.
    • Do NOT cut down a tree in front of a Bosmer.
    • Do NOT ask how Bosmeri flesh tastes.
    • Do NOT ask how to cook a Khajiit.

    The Wood Elves of Valenwood, Dance in Fire, Bone Orchard Research Log 5, Thalmor Diplomatic Corps Notice, The Wild Remain: Valenwood, Green Pact Bosmer: Observations, The Green Pact and the Dominion, ESO, Racial Motifs 3: Wood Elves Humor of the Wood Elves





    The Rite of Theft is an unwritten rule which every Bosmer knows. Stealing something without being caught is an admirable feat to the Bosmer, and this Rite is one of the most popular things among Wood Elves. The basic gist is that the Rite of Theft allows for a little harmless thievery, but what's it about precisely?

    Well, if you manage to steal something from someone without being noticed, you can then ask for ransom for that object. You can ask for anything of the same value, or just a small thing in exchange, if you did it just for fun. There was one Bosmer who actually stole the Ayleid Crown of Nenalata from an Altmeri museum. He then “turned himself in” and asked for a song from one Altmeri guard and then returned the Crown. Crazy? Yes! Perfectly allowed? Definitely!

    If you are caught, however, you might be treated as a common criminal, but this Rite prevents you from being treated that way if you succeed. Every stolen item will be returned to it's owner and you'll get a “reward” for returning that object. There are no penalties if the Rite of Theft is done successfully.




    Wild Hunt, Meat Mandate, the Ooze… Thus far we have dealt with some pretty serious aspects of Bosmeri culture, but let’s not forget what race we’re talking about. What would a Wood Elf be without their signature sense of humor, cuisine and entertainment? Altmer.

    When they aren’t busy stealing their neighbor’s favorite mammoth bone dishware just for fun, these Wood Elves have found plenty of ways to keep themselves entertained.

    While the Bosmer are not well known for their alcoholic beverages (at least not to the level that the Nords or Dunmer are), there’s a few infamous drinks and drinking games to their name. If Nordic mead is supposed to put hair on your chest, then it’s safe to say Bosmeri fermented drinks are meant to make it all fall out.

    • Jagga: Fermented pig’s milk. Popular drink at weddings, and also used in a fun little game called Jagga-Junga, which is a progressive drinking game with eight Jagga mugs of different sizes. Each mug is larger than the previous, and the very last one is for spew. I’d wager a guess and say whoever throws up last is probably the winner.
    • Rotmeth: Made from fermented meat and thunderbug organs, this drink is a given at any wedding. It symbolizes the “the muscle of the boar, the power of the forest, the strength of the Bosmer people”.
    • Blood Froth: Whipped, fermented concoction of (you guessed it) blood, chicken egg yolks and melted tallow. Salt to taste.
    • Fermented Honey Liquor: Made from two hives’ worth of honey, a handful of hops and plenty of water, the longer this is set aside to ferment, the better it tastes.
    • Sun's Dusk Ale: A strong alcoholic beverage said to smell like “a juicy steak marinated with plum wine and coriander”, this is one very complicated brew that requires years of preparation by the brewmaster. Frog skins, boar meat, bugs of all kinds and more than one enchantment goes into making this drink. It’s described as tasting like “happiness, distilled”. This drink will likely taste unique for anyone who tries it.


    If their favorite beverages haven’t scared you away, you can unwind with board games, dice games, juggling and an exciting game of Mammoth Ball.


    • Forks Akimbo: A juggling game played with very long forks. What happens if you mess up while juggling? .... Well, probably best not to ask.
    • “Where’s Falinesti?”: A board game made of boiled leather to construct the game board, and played using a pouch of turquoise game pieces. The objective is to find Falinesti, but the details and the rules of the game are unknown.
    • Perchance, Acorn: A classic game in Valenwood, it’s an acorn-hiding puzzle game involving cups and a game board.
    • “Which Head, Whose Head?”: A scalp on a stick. (No, not kidding) Also, the ‘stick’ is really an arm-bone. (Also not kidding). A popular traditional game in Tanglehaven!
    • Mammoth Ball: A team sport in Valenwood, the main game piece is a grapefruit-sized hairy leather ball. Whether actual mammoth testicle or unsettlingly-accurate fake, we’ll let you decide.


    Apart from these specific items, the Wood Elves like card games, puppet shows, music and jokes. They’re obviously very comfortable with dead animals enough to make a game out of almost anything. While some might find this bizarre, it’s important to keep in mind that the Bosmeri sense of humor is a bit… different, than the other races.

    If the drinks didn’t work and the games aren’t getting to you, maybe a few Bosmer jokes can tickle your funny bone:

    A skeleton walks into the tavern and says, "I'd like some rotmeth. And a mop."

    Q. What's brown and sticky?

    A. A stick.

    Person One: Ask me if I'm a tree.

    Person Two: Are you a tree?

    Person One: No.

    Q. Which side of a raven has the most feathers?

    A. The outside.

    Q. What has three heads, is ugly, and smells?

    A. My mistake! You don't have three heads!

    Q. What's light as a feather, but cannot be held for very long?

    A. Breath.

    Q. Imagine your boat's sinking in slaughterfish-infested waters. How do you survive?

    A. Stop imagining!

    Q. Why do thunderbugs eat raw meat?

    A. They never learned to cook.

    Q. Why do bees buzz?

    A. Because they can't whistle.

    (And Fawn’s personal favorite)

    Q: Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?

    A: It was dead.

    Just remember, kids. Anything can be a brand new game or a hilarious punchline as long as it’s dead!


    Humor of the Wood Elves, Dreadful Theft of Sun's Dusk Ale, Aunt Anela's Cookbook, ESO Quest: Something Rotten, ESO Items of Valenwood




    You might not believe it, but even Bosmer can be very diverse when it comes to different parts of their own culture, specifically the Green Pact. Zealotry is present in every culture, and the Bosmer are no different. In various regions of Valenwood, how zealous they are in their worship of Y’ffre and upholding the Green Pact differs by area. There are more savage tribes in deep forests of Valenwood for whom the idea of eating fruit that falls from tree is still blasphemous, a serious violation of the Green Pact. Yet most of the city tribes would eat the fruit without second thought - because they aren’t hurting any plant, right?

    Same goes with imported plants, wood and other things Bosmer are prohibited from using in Valenwood. Bosmer in cities will use wood imported from other lands without any problem, use wooden arrows, smoke from wooden pipes, smoke leaves (instead of the traditional insects/bugs), etc. Tribal Bosmer on the other hand might see this as violation of Green Pact.

    Let's talk about visitors coming to Valenwood. Lore contradicts here slightly, but what we understand, City Bosmer usually welcome strangers with open arms - as long as they don’t hurt their forest. But what precisely does that mean? Cutting down Valenwood trees mostly, mostly. But what about plant-life? For example, the Altmer of the Aldmeri Dominion were allowed to pick flowers and plants without serious repercussions. This is not a violation of the Green Pact. Why? Green Pact is only for Bosmer.

    But those are the more ‘civilized’ Bosmer, more tolerant. If one of those more savage Bosmer see you picking up flowers...well, you'll end up like a pincushion full of bosmeri arrows. It is important to show respect to the Green, whether you are in the city or deep in the Greenshade.

    As for the Meat Mandate, where you have to eat anything you kill in three days, there is difference too. This is followed only in the most remote and savage villages/tribes in Valenwood, while city Bosmer would probably pass. Sure, city Bosmer still might eat their enemies when they kill them, but it is no longer essential.

    Green Pact Bosmer: Observations, War Customs of the Tribal Bosmer, General Malgoth´s Journal, Dance in Fire, Wood Elf Etiquette: An Imperial Guide



    By this point, you may be wondering who, whom or what could be in charge of the Bosmer? Who do they turn to for spiritual guidance? Who do they question when problems arise from neighboring Wood Orcs or they need to negotiate with the Imga?

    Who the Bosmer seek guidance from depends strongly on region, but there is one common place to start:

    Treethanes - These are the chieftains of the Bosmer tribes, and the leaders of each settlement, town or city. Unlike the Jarls of Skyrim, who are in charge of multiple towns or settlements within their hold, Treethanes seem to be specific to each tribe or settlement. For example, the Jarl of the Rift is in charge of Riften, Shor's Stone and Ivarstead. But a Treethane would only be in charge of the city of Woodhearth, not the settlements or towns surrounding it.

    Camoran Dynasty - The main ruling aristocracy of Valenwood. These Bosmeri royal lines have been around since the First Era, and how much power or control they hold over Valenwood has fluctuated significantly. In more recent times, their influence seems to have dwindled, and much of the Bosmer people look to the Spinners, the Silvenar & Green Lady and the Wilderking for guidance.

    Silvenar & Green Lady - These two figures are very important to Bosmer. One could say they represent the Bosmeri people. Silvenar and Green Lady are husband and wife, married by a ritual called Handfasting. But who exactly are they? The question should be what are they.

    Silvenar represents the people of Valenwood, he is their will and they are his, he can influence people's opinions but people can influence his opinions. He´s like a big antenna, receiving the united thinking of Bosmer and then sending it back. Every time the Silvenar undergoes the Handfasting, he would feel the nation's will and act upon it, his identity changed from whoever he was before to...Silvenar. Also, it's interesting to note that the walking city Falinesti seems to obey the Silvenar.

    Still confused? Here’s an example: Imagine that every Bosmer would be asked if he wants Valenwood to join Dominion or not. If majority would feel - yes, feel - that it is wrong to bend their knees to Dominion, Silvernar would know that. He would know every single Bosmer´s opinion on this matter and he would act on their will. You can think about it as voting, without actual votes, with one person immediately knowing the results.

    Now, Green Lady. She represents the strength and ferocity of Bosmer. It´s important to note that after the Handfasting, the new Green Lady will have the experience and memories of all previous ladies, giving up her own identity to become...the Green Lady. She can be seen as a pure force of nature, almost a demigod. She can hear the “cries” of Yffre´s children - their cries of joy, rage, fear and sorrow. If the Silvenar listens to the minds of the Bosmer people, the Green Lady listens to their hearts.

    Silvenar and Green Lady are bound for life. Literally. If one dies, the other will perish very soon too. These roles have to be filled again as soon as possible.

    Voice of the People,  A Tale Forever Told, Wardens of the Green,  Ladies of Green, Yffre´s Beckoning, The Woodsmer, ESO

    Wilderking - A seldom-seen but very powerful entity of Valenwood, he/she holds command over the forest, seen as a mouthpiece and protective force of nature. The tribal Bosmer found in the less 'civilized' parts of Valenwood revere the Wilderking far greater than anyone else, though even they have their doubts on his/her existence. The Wilderking dwells in his Court high above the Bosmer city of Greenheart, and it is said that some lucky Bosmer may earn an audience with the Wilderking (in fact, many Bosmer often petition at the Petition Stone for a chance to speak with him/her); the entity is picky about who he appears before.

    The Wilderking possesses a unique connection with Valenwood; he is able to mantle the power and magicka of nature to protect the Bosmer people. He is present in nature, entwined with it, so to speak. The Wilderking seems to keep Valenwood in check, maintaining balance within the Greenshade Region (his presence there seems greater than anywhere else in Valenwood) and ensuring the Bosmer people survive. The Wilderking is protected by The Hollow, which are stone-like creatures that can prove hostile to anyone trying to threaten Valenwood or the Wilderking. The Wilderking, by the way, is not eternal.

    Originally mantled by a mortal, a future Wilderking or Queen will possess extraordinary power early on in life, capable of changing the landscape around them just with a thought. At some point in their life, they will be brought before the Wilderking, where they will then assume the role. The old mortal will die, and the new one will replace them. But not without a cost, however; anyone who assumes the role of the Wilderking or Wilderqueen, does so at the loss of their identity. They will remember nothing of their previous life. Their existence and their purpose will be tied inexplicably to the Green from that point on.

    If the previous Wilderking were to die before the next destined mortal can continue the cycle, then the forest 'would become a

    voracious monster. It would turn against the Bosmer and ultimately bring about its own destruction'.

    ESO, The Wilderking Legend

    Spinners - Spinners are the priests of Y'ffre. Spiritual leaders in the Bosmer communities, their greatest gift is 'storytelling', but this talent goes far beyond an outsider's typical understanding of it. If Y'ffre is weaving a great story, a song that includes every Bosmer, every creature, plant and aspect of nature, then the Spinners are weaving smaller threads in one enormous tapestry of life. They seem omnipotent, seemingly able to see a person's past, present and future, and to influence it as they deem necessary. The Bosmer often go to them for guidance in matters of the Green Pact (they often act as enforcers of the Pact), the Meat Mandate, and any other matters of great importance.

    More information about the Spinners can be found by reading below, or by reading Vazgen's article The Spinners and the Valenwood .

    • Spinners´ Power

    Spinners are basically priests of Y’ffre, but instead of focusing on preaching about him, they tell stories. But what stories? Stories of past, of present… and of future. It’s debatable if they can see the future or if they can shape it, but we think it’s a little bit of both. It’s really difficult to explain the full extent of their power, because even we don’t fully understand it, but we’ll do our best. This will be quite heavy, so please bear with us.

    We invite you to think of a Spinner not as a storyteller, but as a writer. Imagine he is writing a story about a certain character - a character with life, with backstory, a character that is alive in the same time as the story is written.

    The Spinner starts writing that story from a certain moment and continues forward, slowly getting near the end. But near that end, the Spinner jumps backwards, before the beginning of the story he’s writing, into the backstory. And into that backstory he adds a new person that wasn’t there before.

    To make it clearer, we will be referring to main character as MC and that person will be “Friend”.

    Friend is visible only for the MC, only MC can interact with him. Events unfold, and where before was only the MC, there are now two characters. That Friend influences some of the decisions MC did where she was alone originally. MC’s opinions on certain things change.

    In that moment Spinner jumps back, to the near end of the story. And there, MC is still the same, but slowly begins to remember Friend, slowly realizing her opinions are changing because of that Friend, thus the “old” MC merges with the “changed” MC, resulting in the different end of the story.

    To sum it up, Spinners can influence the present and future by changing the past. Let’s be clear, they aren’t capable of erasing people from the history, but they are able to influence their opinions.

    In another example, imagine that the Bosmer want to make peace with a Colovian warlord who hates Bosmer, and doesn’t want peace. The Spinner can tell a story where the Colovian warlord had a Bosmeri best friend in the past, so right now in the present, his view of the Bosmer might change.

    With such awesome power that the Spinners possess, it really makes one think: who in the Oblivion is Y’ffre that he’s capable of giving such power to mortals?

    Only the Bosmer and the Spinners seem to know the answer to that.

    ESO, Spinning a Story, Y'ffre's Beckoning Questions.



    In Valenwood, it's a custom to shoot everything that moves with your bow… Nah, we’re kidding. But it's true that Bosmer are the best archers in Tamriel, because they train with a bow from early age (possibly the earliest of all races). But let us talk more about their war customs and again, we'll bring out the differences between tribal and city Bosmer.

    Bosmer do not wage wars for conquest or any other similar reasons as other races. In fitting with their unique sense of humor, they do it mostly for sport (The exceptions being when they’re included in Dominion armies).

    There’s more of a reason for their avoidance of serious war and conflict than just the Bosmer sense of mischief. Waging war - or killing in general - can be quite difficult for Bosmer, mainly because of Meat Mandate. As we’ve mentioned before, you have to eat what you kill in three days. Try to imagine that in a much larger scale, like a battle of two armies. That´s a lot of meat to eat, right? But again, this applies only to the most zealous followers of Green Pact. Another reason is the Mourning Wars, and this, along with the Meat Mandate, is another custom practiced in the wilder regions.



    Bosmer do not war with other nations very often, any ‘wars’ they have are mainly with one another. But it’s important to understand that these Mourning Wars are not about killing. Deaths during these battles are very rare.

    But what is a Mourning War? One tribe raids another and tries to steal items of great value. The larger the item, the greater the prestige. This is closely tied to Rite of Theft, and it’s basically all about stealing other items for ransom, but the Mourning War sets a few rules.

    If someone dies during the raid, the warrior who slew that someone has to eat him - the warrior's family members are allowed to help him with that task.

    Another is that when someone dies, the tribe will go on hostage-taking raid, and that hostage will symbolically replace the slain member of the tribe. If the slain was a powerful or prestigious member of the tribe, more hostages are taken. After a period of physical torture - supposedly to test their worthiness - hostages are joyously welcomed into the tribe. Traditionally the victim was given the deceased tribe member´s position, possessions, and family though this practice may be rarely honored nowadays.

    Heroes of the Sanctuary, War Customs of the Tribal Bosmer, ESO



    Because using wood is prohibited by the Green Pact, metal weapons were never widespread in Valenwood - there are almost no forges to craft these weapons. It's quite curious that Bosmer are the best archers in Tamriel, yet they don't use wood for bows or even arrows. So what do they use?

    For bows, they mostly use bone and horns, though no Bosmer ever turned down a wooden bow and quiver made outside Valenwood.

    Cunning concoctions of honey vinegar, brought to a boil before other secretive elements are added, improve the flexibility of the bone stick, and the time submerged greatly affects the form of the stick. Until the recent truce, most bowstrings were fashioned from Khajiiti gut.

    And then arrows, which are made of bone too. Bosmer actually prescribe different effects to different kind of bones. Like bone from river droop can dull enemy's senses, bone from senche-tiger can make the enemy bleed for days and bones from wamasu carry “a jolt that rattles deep inside the bones.” Mammoth bone arrows are thought to strike with enough force to knock down a target. Bird bone arrows fly faster and more accurately.

    The bones of every beast have stories to tell. They have memories of stalking through the vines, of flying through the canopy. Of hunting and killing and eating. When we shape the bone into arrows, we prepare a Death Story, and the bone we choose has great meaning. Some laugh at this or roll their eyes, calling any arrow "just an arrow," but the Bosmer know bones tell the best tales.

    Bones from birds of prey rarely miss, and those of great lizards and snakes are quick and sharp. Arrows made from prey creatures are fleet, those from hunters bite deep into their marks. Cheerful arrows for warning shots are best made from monkeys. The more dangerous the beast, the more deadly the result.

    But what do they use beside bows? Axes, spears, knives and blunt weapons, everything usually made from bone, jagged glass or flint stones, with primitive handles tied together by leather strips.

    There is nothing like swordsmanship in Valenwood, for multiple reasons.

    Few Wood Elves have the mental discipline for traditional Altmeri martial schooling. They are easily distracted, and have no patience for the philosophical aspects of the training. Altmeri masters, who describe their system of swordsmanship as "Proper Conflict," refused to adapt their techniques to the smaller stature and shorter reach of their pupils.

    As for the armor, you can expect leather, chitin and bone armors from Bosmer.

    Expect to see a Wood Elf clad in leather, shell plates, and occasionally antlers, with skulls for helms and other bones for fancy ornamentation. For more robust protection, strange insect resins and equally odd alchemical additives are combined to color and stiffen the plackart and fauld.

    Arms and Armor of the Bosmeri Champion, Gosellaneth Sight-Unseen, Common Arms of Valenwood, The Source of the Bone


    We hope that you, the reader, can walk away with a better understanding of the Bosmer heritage, their customs and their cultural identity. Keep in mind that this is only scratching the surface, an ‘overview’ of the Bosmeri race, and we encourage you to keep reading more sources and digging deeper. For anyone looking for additional information, we suggest the more in-depth articles found in the lore archives, or by following this link Here.





    Spinners of Y´free, Tales of the Spinners, Bones of the Forest, Eldest: A Pilgrim´s Tale, Racial Motifs 3: The Wood Elves, The Green Singing, The Green Pact and the Dominion, Last of the Old Bones, Valenwood: A Study, Diplomacy during the Handfasting, Blessings of Hircine, The Wood Elves of Valenwood, Firuin´s Journal, Green Lady, My Lady, Orchelor´s Diary, The Book of the Great Tree


    Children´s Anuad, Father of the Niben, Merethic Era, Bone Orchard Research Logs


    One Bosmer´s Response to the Dominion, Visions of the Green Pact Bosmer, The Wild Remain: Valenwood, Woodhearth: A Pocket Guide, Oathbreaker´s Rest, Why We Farm, Silvenar Manifest, Marksmanship Lessons, Oathbreakers of Ouze, Bone Orchard Research Logs, Mixed Unit Tactics, ESO-RP Interview, Loremaster´s Archive: Bosmer

    (Silvenar and Green Lady)

    Reward for Information: Silvenar, A Time of Troubles, Letter from Berfonas, Letter to Thalrinel, An Unusual Alliance, The Time is Past, Secrets of Treehenge, Elder Scrolls Online: Lore Answers


    Sumiril´s Book

  • Member
    March 17, 2016

     SO. No one ever ask me to code anything ever again. Lol just kidding, it was time consuming but I'm proud of everything we accomplished. I hope you guys enjoy!  Lengthy article but there was a LOT to cover. I hope this looks okay, Thorien & Karver!

    Someone let me know if I did the tags correctly.

  • March 17, 2016
    Exactly what I've been looking for. Gonna add it to my favorites.
  • Member
    March 17, 2016

    ^^ So glad to hear that! Enjoy! If you have any questions, just let us know.

  • Member
    March 17, 2016
    This is the Bosmer encyclopedia!!! Well done you three! :D
  • March 18, 2016

    It´s been ultimate pleasure to work under you, girls  I certainly love your final and gentle touches here, Fawn, I love those headers. It was certainly fun, girls, so now that it´s out...what shall we do next? 

  • Member
    March 18, 2016

    Thanks Karvs! It was a joy working with you and Thorien, I had a lot of fun working on this article. I'm glad you liked the headers, I really wanted an excuse to use a pretty leaf font and my amateur photoshop skills!

    Heehee, what's next for Fawn specifically, I might try to squeeze one more character into the RP Event: Races, but we'll see how this weekend goes!

  • March 18, 2016

     Well done Fawn) You did everything cool, thank you) And Karver, thank you too) It was a great event to participate in and I enjoyed it a lot, working with you was really cool, guys)

  • Member
    March 18, 2016

    Thank you for this!  

  • Member
    March 18, 2016

    Team Tree Troll delivers and in some style too. There are multiple loregasms to be had here! It seems more than just an update on Bosmeri lore, I'd go as far to say this is now the definitive treatise on Forest Goblins on the site. Mora would give his left tentacle for this tome of knowledge boners.