Nirn is largely known by otherworldly beings as Mundus, or the mortal plane. The exact reasons and specifics of Nirn’s creation are largely debated; however, all agree that the deity Lorkhan inspired, and played a large role in, the creation of the watery planet known as Nirn. Two moons, Secunda and Masser, orbit Nirn. Metaphorically, they represent Lorkhan’s sundered halves. Nirn orbits an unnamed sun, and is, so far, the only discovered planet in the solar system. The heavens beyond Nirn are star-filled. Astrology, a science of the planet’s intelligent organisms, has been used to graph and attach spiritual meaning to these celestial bodies.
Tamriel is the continent where the events of the game will take place. It is located on the planet of Nirn, which is the mortal realm of the finite and the partial, as opposed to the immortal realms of the infinite and the absolute. In The Elder Scrolls, Mundus, another name for Nirn, is the Elvish root for the human word “mundane”, meaning ordinary. Some believe that Tamriel is an extension of the realm Oblivion, although this could just be the ramblings of the Mythic Dawn. In terms of size, Tamriel is 12 million square miles and consists of 9 countries or provinces.
The name Tamriel is said to mean ‘Starry Heart’, while, according to Arena, it is also Elvish for ’Dawn’s Beauty’, however, in the Nu-Mantia Intercept Tamriel is ‘The Starry Heart of Dawn’s Beauty
Provinces of Tamriel
(up to and through the early 4th era)
- Cyrodiil – This province lies in the center of Tamriel and is the home of a human race named Imperials. It is the center of their Empire, which controls all other provinces. Cyrodiil is also known as the Heartland.
- Morrowind – The province in the northeast corner of Tamriel and home to the Dunmer. It consists of a continental mainland and a large island in the center called Vvardenfell, separated by an inlet from the Sea of Ghosts, The Inner Sea.
- Skyrim – This northern, snow-covered, and mountainous region is home to the Nord human race and Falmer meri race (Snow Elves). Skyrim contains some of the tallest mountains in all of Tamriel, most notably the Throat of the World. Skyrim is less urbanized than Cyrodiil, but the 5 largest cities do have sizable population.
- High Rock – Home to the Bretons and Orcs, this province is divided into multiple Breton city-states and minor kingdoms. It is a temperate coastal region in northwestern Tamriel.
- Hammerfell – Lying in west Tamriel, this province is dominated by the Alik’r desert. Hammerfell is home to the Redguard human race. The northern region of Hammerfell is part of the setting for the game The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.
- Summerset Isle – This province is located in the Eltheric Ocean, with the Abecean Sea separating the islands from the mainland Tamriel continent. It is composed of two islands, one large western main island and one smaller, elongated eastern island. These islands are home to the Altmer (High Elves).
- Valenwood – This densely forested, sub-tropical region forms the southwest coastal plain of Tamriel. Valenwood is home to the Bosmer (Wood Elves).
- Elsweyr – Divided across arid badlands to the North and a more populous sub-tropical zone in the South, this region marks the southern coast of Tamriel. Elsweyr is home to the Khajiit.
- Black Marsh – This huge and mostly unchartered region of densely vegetated wetlands is at the southeastern tip of Tamriel. Argonians thrive in the foreboding swamps and thick brush, thanks to their reptillian underwater breathing abilities and very high resistance to disease.
Recorded Tamrielic history is divided into four distinct eras: the First Era, the Second Era, the Third Era, and the Fourth Era.
- First Era – The long First Era is mostly marked by the shifting of power from Elves to Men and the birth of some of the most powerful religions in the land. From the heartland of Tamriel, we learn of the struggling Human race: from their miserable fate as slaves to finally being able to push out their Elven masters from the land. From the northeast part of the continent, the Heart of Lorkhan tempts so many mortals, from the Dwemer to Chimer and eventually Nord Humans. The Divine Heart causes a terrible war, and the extinction of a once great race, the Dwemer.
- Second Era – The Second Era starts after the Akaviri Potentate “Versidue Shaie” assassinates the last of the Cyrodiil line. This is also the era when some of the most powerful factions in Tamriel are born, the Mages’ Guild and the Dark Brotherhood being two from among the greatest to arise during this time period. The era finally ends after Tiber Septim, wielding a Dwemer artifact called Numidium, successfully unites the entire Tamrielic landmass once again.
- Third Era – The Third Era, which some describe as the most glorious era thus far, is the time of the Septim Dynasty. In fact, the long line of Septim Emperors almost reaches an end at several points in the history of this period. Some of the significant events are the War of the Red Diamond, a civil war over the succession, and a long decade of reign by the traitorous Jagar Tharn. Furthermore, this era is marked by the rebirth of Nerevar Indoril, the greatest Chimeri general; as well as the rebirth of Numidium and the second Dragon Break that follows. The Oblivion Crisis also arose when the Daedric Prince, Mehrunes Dagon, attempted to enter the mortal world in his “god-like” state. In the final days of the Third Era, the emperor, Uriel Septim VII is assassinated at the’ beginning of the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls, Oblivion, along with all his heirs, save one illegitimate son, Martin. In the final fight for Septim’s life, the Blades were aided by an escaped prisoner. It was this escaped prisoner who rescued Martin from the siege of Kvatch, this prisoner who again and again stormed Oblivion, and this prisoner who recovered the Amulet of Kings. It was also this prisoner, called Champion of Cyrodiil, Hero of Kvatch, and Savior of Bruma, who witnessed Martin’s ultimate self-sacrifice to end the Oblivion Crisis, and with it, the Third Era. In addition to closing all of the Oblivion gates, the act also sealed the fate of the world’s magic and magic users. <details>
- Fourth Era -
There are two other Eras previous to the aforementioned four. They are the ‘Dawn Era’ in which the universe and everything in it came into being, and the ‘Merethic Era’, otherwise known as the Mythic Era, in which Mer (Elves) first arrived in Tamriel and all manner of mythological occurrences are said to have taken place. These two Eras are commonly considered to be outside of verifiable history, as humanity did not possess a written language to speak of until the end of the Mythic Era. Aldmeri records, on the other hand, date back to the beginning of ME, however these are not open to Imperial scholars.
Provinces of the 4th era
In the 500 years after the closure of the Oblivion Gates, the empire had lost much of it’s territory. By 4E22, The Summerset Isles belonged to the Thalmor faction. By 4E115, the 2nd Aldmeri Dominion had been formed, comprising the Summerset Isles (now renamed “Alinor”) and Valenwood, which had been seized by Thalmor sympathizers during a coup. Around 4E5-6, Red Mountain errupted in Vvardenfell, destroying the island and much of northern Morrowind. With Morrowind severely weakened, the Argonians (who had seceded from the Empire) invaded, conquering the Dunmer. Also, due to the great war, and the White-Gold Concordat that followed, Hammerfell now belongs to neither the Empire or the Dominion. Depending on the resolution of the Skyrim Civil War, Skyrim may remain in the Empire, or become an independent nation.
Below are a list of all Provinces and their affiliation:
The Empire (Capital: Cyrodiil)
- Cyrodiil (Capital: Imperial City)
- High Rock (Capital: Daggerfall)
- Skyrim* (Capital: Solitude)
The Aldmeri Dominion (Capital: Summerset Isles)
- Summerset Isles / Alinor (Capital: Alinor)
- Valenwood (Capital: Falinesti)
Argonia (Capital: Lilmoth)
- Black Marsh (Capital: Lilmoth)
- Morrowind (Capital: Mournhold)
- Hammerfell (Capital: Sentinel)
- Skyrim* (Capital: Windhelm)
- - Pending resolution of civil war
Tamriel consists of nine provinces, each of these provinces corresponds with their own culture and race, with the exception of High Rock, which houses two distinct species:
- High Rock, inhabited by Bretons, man/elf hybrids on the human side; also Orcs or Orsimer, aldmeris for ‘Pariah Folk’: Elves so ruined and corrupted that they are often mistaken as akin to goblins and/or trolls. Orsimer live in the city of Orsinium.
- Hammerfell, inhabited by the Redguard (native to Yokuda), enterprising expansionists from the west. Though they are men, they do not share the same blood as the other human races. Hammerfell once housed a significant Dwemer population. It was later Orcish territory until the landing of the Yokudan in their Ra’gada, or “Warrior Wave.” It is from this wave that the Redguards take their name, and their swift, easy conquest of Hammerfell that earned them their reputation as the best soldiers upon Nirn.
- Skyrim, inhabited by Nords, and the Falmer, men and mer of the north. Nords being the only remaining direct and unchanged descendants of the original human ‘Nedic’ settlers from across the now frozen Sea of Ghosts.
- Morrowind, inhabited by Dunmer, or Dark Elves, meaning ‘accursed folk’ in Aldmeris (Due to Azura’s curse after the events at the Battle of Red Mountain). This region once also housed a large Dwemer population. All that remains are their ruins.
- Black Marsh, inhabited by Argonians, highly evolved lizard people, who are commonly looked down upon as beastfolk. For this reason, the Argonians were formerly a popular slave race.
- Elsweyr, inhabited by the Khajiit, cat folk, also commonly looked down upon as savage. The Khajiit were also common slaves.
- Valenwood, inhabited by Wood Elves, or Bosmer in the Elven, meaning ‘tree-sap folk’, they are the Elven products of blood mixing with men, like the Bretons. The Bretons are a similar race of hybrids leaning more towards the Man stock-the Bosmer lean more towards the Mer.
- Summerset Isles, inhabited by Altmer, or High Elves, meaning ‘superior (and/or snobbish) folk’.
- Cyrodiil, the Imperial province, inhabited by the Imperials, or Cyrodiils, a common human race who form the foundational population of the Empire, although the ruling Septim dynasty are thought to be of at least some Nordic blood (which might explain their long history as conquerors and warrior-kings). The Line of Septim is also known to have some Dunmeri ancestry.
The main races are the Bretons, Redguards , Argonians, Khajiit, Altmer (High Elves),
Orsimer (Orcs), Imperials, Dunmer (Dark Elves), Bosmer (Wood Elves), and Nords. Many of hese are demonstrated within the playable racial packages in this journal.
The Falmer (Snow Elves), the original elven inhabitants of Skyrim. Lead by their leader The Snow Prince, fought in The Battle of Moesring against Ysgramor and 500 companions. Sadly, during the war, 12-year old Nord girl Finna witnessed her father slaughtered by The Snow Prince. This made the girl thirsty for revenge, she then picked up her father’s sword and struck the prince down. This ended the war between the Falmer and the Nords in Skyrim. The remaining Falmer sought out shelter with the Dwemer. However, the Dwemer did not trust their Snow Elf guests for long, and forced them to eat a toxic fungi rendering them blind…and making them their slaves. This angered the Falmer and made them rebel against The Dwemer which started The War of Crag possibly being responsible for the disappearence of the Dwemer.
The Dwemer (meaning ‘deep folk’ often misinterpreted as referring to their subterranean habits, should be better understood as ‘wise/smart folk’), commonly nicknamed ‘Dwarves’ due to a dubious myth involving their befriending a race of giants, though not actually short in stature. They used to inhabit all of Tamriel, but were concentrated in Morrowind and Hammerfell. They all disappeared simultaneously during the concluding battle of the war of the First Council, the Battle of Red Mountain, when Lord Nerevar led the Chimer* in an attack against the Dwarves to keep them from using Kagrenac’s Tools. The Dwemer were trying to use the tools to create a God (called ‘Numidium’) for themselves. The Chimer saw this as an affront to their gods, for whom they faced ridicule and ostracism; thusly the war. It is believed that Kagrenac attempted to use the tools in desperate gamble, causing the Dwemer to be removed from all of existence, however Ashlander tradition maintains that, Nerevar and Dagoth Ur severed the Dwemer connection to the Heart of Lorkhan at the end of the War of the First Council, and all the Dwemer vanished.
Additional information on Dwemer
The Dwemer (/dwɛ.mɚ/ dwem-mer, /dweɪ.mɚ/ dway-mer or /dwiː.mɚ/ dwee-mer), the “people of the deep”, are a fabled “Lost Race” of Mer from Dwemereth, which mostly consisted of modern-day Morrowind, where they are believed to have been the most prolific, though they also had a strong presence in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Skyrim. Meric races use the term “Dwemer”, which translates to “Deep-Elves” or “Deep Folk”. Men commonly refer to them as Dwarves. The early history of the Dwemer is still clouded in mystery. There is no known story of their dissociation from the Aldmer, which must have occurred very early in Tamrielic history, as their society bore few correlations with that of the Altmer besides some similar legal principles. The Dwemer built elaborate underground cities near and beneath mountain ranges, including the Velothi Mountains and Red Mountain, and in the mountains of the isle Stros M’Kai. Many misconceptions about them have abounded for centuries: scholars long thought that most Dwemer ruins which dotted Tamriel outside Morrowind were mere outposts and that there were few significant Dwemer settlements elsewhere until 1E 420. The presentation of the Dwemer in fictitious but popular novels like the Ancient Tales of the Dwemer has also lodged an inaccurate impression of them in the popular consciousness, painting them as familiar, comfortable characters very similar to humans. In reality, they are better described as having been fearsome, unfathomable, and even cruel, though also careful, intelligent, and industrious. Their society consisted of free-thinking yet reclusive clans devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and the arcane until they mysteriously disappeared around 1E 700.
The Chimer, meaning ‘changed folk’ in Aldmeris, were a small cult of High Elves who were led by the prophet Veloth to the promised land of Resdayn, now called Morrowind. They were cursed by the Daedric prince Azura after the Tribunal used the the Heart of Lorkhan to become living gods. The curse when they ceased worship and turned to worshiping three god-kings known as the Tribunal. The curse turned gold coloured skin to black in hue and turned their eyes to glowing red, transforming the Chimer into Dunmer. The curse also contained a promise that some day, Nerevar Indoril would return and signal the downfall of the profane Tribunal Temple. However, this is contested by Imperial scholars, who instead suggest that this is just a myth – and the real cause of the skin and eye color change was because of their change in geography.
The Ayleid, an Elven race who were the original rulers of Cyrodiil and are now apparently extinct. Their ruins can be found scattered across Cyrodiil, and are a lucrative venture for any skilled and brave enough to venture into one and return with treasures. Lesser Welkynd Stones and Varla Stones, which can be found in most such ruins, are 50 and 1000 gold a piece, respectively. There were once also Greater Welkynd Stones, but these have all been plundered and consumed. However, Ayleid sites are littered with ingenious and deadly traps, and have often become the hiding place of gangs of Necromancers, Conjurers, bandits, or other outlaws, or of tribes of goblins, or even, on occasion, vampire clans.
The Giants, a race of gargantuan humanoids, are found in the wilderness of Skyrim and High Rock. Infamous for their colossal height and immense strength, Giants share little civil interaction with humans. Culturally, Giants herd Mammoths, processing their milk into cheese, complimenting their omnivorous diet with the cooked meat of skeever. Seemingly nomadic, Giants travel with their herds, setting camp across Skyrim and High Rock — mostly above ground. Invaders are attacked with the massive clubs forged by the Giants.
The Orsimer, commonly known as Orcs, are a barbarian people from the mountainous regions of western Tamriel. They are centrally located in Orsinium, The City of Orcs, but are common in other great cities throughout Tamriel. Including such as the walking city of Bosmer kings, Falinesti.
Many different gods are worshipped across all Tamrielic cultures, each race having its own pantheon of gods. A complete list of these can be found in the book Varieties of Faith in the Empire. However, most of these pantheons represent the same properties, and can be split into 2 groups:
- Aedra – The term Aedra comes from the Aldmer and means ‘ancestors’. This corresponds with the original Aldmeri belief system that the Altmer are the direct descendants of these immortals. The term is used by scholars from other races to describe all gods who are aligned to Anu (stasis). The Aedra are often seen as creators. The most widespread of these Aedra are the 8 gods who created the mortal world. These gods form the core of the Imperial pantheon: together with Tiber Septim they form the Nine Divines.
- Daedra – The term Daedra means either ‘stronger, better ancestors’ or ‘not our ancestors’, the first being used by the Chimer to emphasise their separation from other Aldmer. Other races adapted the term to a broader use which includes all gods aligned to Padhome(change), although most humans refer to them as daemons. The Daedra consist of 16 princes and a large number of lesser Daedra.
Although Tamriel is the most well-known and important place in the world, it isn’t the only one. Far to the north of Tamriel lies Atmora, from which the Nords came to conquer Tamriel. Atmora, in the Elvish language, means ‘Elder Wood’.
To the west of Tamriel lies the sunken continent of Yokuda, from which the people that are now called the Redguards came to take over Hammerfell.
To the east of Tamriel lies the continent of Akavir, which means ‘Dragon Land’. Akavir is home to four major groups: Kamal, Tsaesci, Tang Mo, and Ka Po’ Tun. It was once home to the Akaviri, a race of Man and, most notably, the Dragons, but the Tsaesci drove the Dragons and Men to extinction – it is unknown what happened to the Akaviri. Akavir has launched multiple invasions on Tamriel in the past. Although a line of Tsaesci did rule Tamriel for some time, it was replaced by the Septim Dynasty of rulers; all other invasions have failed.
Below Summerset Isle, just to the south of Tamriel, lies Pyandonea, the tropical home of the Maormer or Tropical Elves. Even farther south supposedly lies the lost Elven homeland of Aldmeris, or Ehlnofey, which was devastated in ancient times (hence the early migration of Elves to other continents, namely Tamriel).
The Coral Kingdoms of Thras, an archipelago southwest of Tamriel, is the homeland of the sload, a conservative amphibious sluglike race. The Thrassian Plague devastated Tamriel around 1E2200, after which a united Tamrielic navy ravaged and sank Thras into the sea. It has since recovered.