The Major Races of Tamriel

A visit to one of the great cities in Tamriel—Imperial City, Solitude, or Alinor—overwhelms the senses. Voices chatter in countless different languages. The smells of cooking in dozens of different cuisines mingle with the odors of crowded streets and poor sanitation. Buildings in a myriad of architectural styles display the diverse origins of their inhabitants. And the people themselves—people of varying size, shape, and color, dressed in a dazzling spectrum of styles and hues—represent many different races, from the diminutive Bosmer, to the majestic Altmer, mingling among a group of Imperial nobles. Scattered among the elves and humans are some of the less common races. A hulking Orsimer here, pushing his way through the crowd, and a sly Khajiit there, lurking in the shadows with mischief in her eyes. A group of Argonians gather around a large tree in quiet contemplation.


Choosing a Heritage

Each of the provinces are a home to one of the common races of Tamriel. Humans make up the majority of Cyrodiil, Hammerfell, High Rock, and Skyrim, while the Mer populate Morrowind, the Summerset Isles, and Valenwood. Khajiit call Elsweyr home, and the Argonians are comfortable in the Black Marsh. Your character belongs to one of these peoples. Although each heritage has an ancestral calling to a specific province, it is very common for the people of Tamriel to intermingle and travel abroad.

Creating Your Character. At 1st level, instead of selecting a race, you instead choose your character’s Heritage. Your character’s Heritage is defined by a combination of their Ancestry and Culture. By selecting an Ancestry, you are choosing what you're lineage and provides you with Ancestral Traits that represent that. The Culture you choose grants you Cultural Traits, which describes how society has shaped your upbringing.

Each of the classic Elder Scrolls races are represented here as a Heritage, and each Heritage is separated into Ancestral Traits and Cultural Traits. This gives you a lot of customization opportunities when creating unique characters that perfectly fit their story. An Argonian character who has never left the deep swamps of the Black Marsh would likely select Argonian for both their Ancestry and their Culture, while a Dunmer that has lived their entire life within the walls of the Imperial City could choose the Dunmer Ancestry and the Imperial Culture.

Choose Your Ancestry

This is classically defined as your race. It is your ancestral lineage, and usually defines your appearance. A character of Bosmer ancestry might have tawny, bronze skin with reddy-brown hair, pitch black irises, and small antlers. Your ancestry provides your character with a variety of Ancestral Traits, often defined by their lineage and biology.

Choose Your Culture

A character’s culture is often determined by regional or social norms. Things like the languages you speak, the knowledge you value, or the habits you’ve developed are often part of your cultural upbringing. A character with Altmer culture might put a lot of value in studying history or magic and would take pride in their ability to speak many languages. Your culture gives your character Cultural Traits, which are typically learned skills and talents.

Subancestries and Subcultures

Some Heritages have subancestries, such as Argonians or Khajiit, which have members with significantly different physiology. Heritages can also have Subcultures, areas where these groups of people have differing or specific beliefs or values from their larger culture.

Common Traits

Every character will have traits to choose that are not dependent on their Heritage, relying more on the background or story of the character prior to becoming an adventurer. These are often influenced by their Heritage or their class, but is entirely up to the player.

Attribute Score Increases. When determining your attribute scores, increase one of those scores by 2 and increase a different score by 1, or increase three different scores by 1. Follow this rule regardless of the method you use to determine the scores, such as rolling or point buy.

The “Quick Build” section for your character’s class offers suggestions on which scores to increase. You’re free to follow those suggestions or to ignore them. Whichever scores you decide to increase, none of the scores can be raised above 20.

Alignment. Each ancestry has stereotypes about what they believe, but these are broad strokes that might only apply to a group, rather than to an individual. Each player character’s alignment is entirely under the purview of the player.

Languages. Your character can speak, read, and write Tamrielic (sometimes referred to as Cyrodiilic or Common) and one other language that you and your GM agree is appropriate for the character. Chapter 4 provides lists of languages that are common and rare among the population of Tamriel.

Life Span. The typical lifespan of a player character on Tamriel is about a century, assuming the character doesn’t meet a violent end on an adventure. Any ancestry that has a life span beyond the typical is noted in their description, such as the elven ancestries, which typically live longer than their human counterparts.