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The Races of TESO: Altmer
by Merari, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
With The Elder Scrolls Online approximately one year away from release, TESOF has decided to educate fans of the game on the playable races in TESO, so you can have a good idea of their backgrounds before you dive into the game. Today we'll be continuing with the Altmer.
Keep an eye peeled on the Articles section for more articles related to the races of TESO!
The Altmer, or High Elves, are an elven race inhabiting the Summerset (also called Sumurset) islands in the south-west of Tamriel.
'Altmer' means cultured people and they see themselves as the most civilised culture of Tamriel. This belief is not unjustified as much of Tamriel's arts of civilisation come from the Altmer. They taught other races writing, law, science and craftsmanship and to this day Altmer influence can be seen in cultures throughout the continent.
Altmer have a natural resistance to disease and their lifespan is among the highest of all races. Coupled with an affinity for magic, their intelligence and long life means that often they become powerful wizards.
To other races they can seem aloof, and their innate sense of superiority makes them difficult to get along with.
History of the Altmer
The Altmer consider themselves to be the closest of all elves to their common ancestors, the Aldmer.
After the loss of the mythical homeland of Aldmeris, the Altmer made the Summerset Isles their home.*
Though much of their earliest history is either lost or a secret to outsiders, the strange mixture of architectural styles of the city of Cloudrest on top of the mountain Eton Nir indicates that the islands were originally inhabited by the Sload of Thras.
The oldest structures are crafted of coral and of seemingly Thrassian design.
The Sload no longer live on the Summersets, but the Altmer have enslaved Goblins, who perform many menial tasks, and they have a curious relationship with the native Imga ape-men.
ImgaThe Imga have come to see the Altmer as divine beings, their true and just masters and Altmer society as the highest possible ideal.
This is why the Imga go to great lengths to emulate their masters.
They wear capes, practice swordplay, try to speak as properly as possible given their ape-like, raw voices and some of them go so far as to shave off their body hair.
The Imga have come to believe mannish races are mere uncivilised beasts, to be regarded with disdain.
How the Altmer think of the Imga is unknown.
The Altmer practice a system of ancestor worship that links them directly to divine beings that existed before Creation.
On the Summerset Islands these traditions continued and grew in complexity.
Their society stratified into layers of varying importance.
This caused a subtle shift in their ancestor veneration. The lower strata no longer worshiped their own ancestors, but those of their betters, among who are Auriel, Syrabane, Trinimac and Phynaster.
Phynaster is noteworthy for achieving godhood by teaching his people how to add a century to their lifespan by adopting a different manner of walking, the shorter stride.
A group of elder mystics however rebelled at what they saw as deviation from the proper path. They left for Artaeum to practice the Old Ways and called themselves PSJJJ or Psijics.
On occasion they act as advisors to the Summerset courts, but would never return to what they saw as a corrupted society.
Around this time other groups of Altmer also left the Summersets.
Among these were clan Direnni, the Chimer of Veloth and many others. Ayleid, Bosmer, Falmer.
The Dwemer are assumed to have split off earlier, but it seems to be impossible to place exact dates on these events.
The Altmer of Summerset built a society very much removed from that of mainland Tamriel. The great wars, rise of empires and other major events of the first and second era barely had an impact on the Isles.
Instead they focused on their own wars between city-states and invasions from Pyandonea and Thras.
The Sload, with their undead hosts and technomantic devices visited great horrors on the land. The sack of Skywatch and the war of the Uvichil are among the most terrible events in the history of Tamriel.
The constant threat of raids and invasion by the Maormer, or sea elves, from Pyandonea inspired the Altmer to build what to this day is the finest and most powerful navy in Tamriel.
The recent dissolution of the Empire with the death of the last Potentate and the subsequent formation of the Daggerfall Covenant and Ebonheart Pact has persuaded the Altmer to take note of Tamriel politics for once.
Recognising the threat either of these alliances poses to their own independance should it win out over the other, the political faction called the Thalmor rose to power.
They were instrumental in first persuading the Bosmer and later the Khajiit to their cause.
Together they form the Aldmeri Dominion, intent on taking the Imperial Throne and restoring elven rule to all of Tamriel.
Also called Sumurset or Alinor, Summerset lies to the south-west of mainland Tamriel. Together with the surrounding islands it forms the Summerset Isles.
The third largest island of the archipelago is called Artaeum and home to the Psijic Order.
Both Mannimarco the King of Worms and Vanus Galerion the founder of the mages guild are former Psijics.
Artaeum is no longer officially connected to the political structure of the Summerset Isles and the Psijics have once gone so far as to obscure their entire island, making it impossible for anyone to approach it, rather than be subject to politics they do not agree with. Five hundred years later they re-appeared, but gave no explanation for their absence.
Atop the largest mountain of Summerset Isle, Eton Nir, lies the oldest Altmer city of Cloudrest. The city displays many varying architectural styles, newer on top of older. The very oldest structures are made of coral, suggesting Sload origin.
Summerset Isle also is home to the Crystal Tower, or Crystal-Like-Law, a structure of enormous cultural and religious significance to the Altmer.
It is the spiritual centre and focus of their ancestor worship.
Before the foundation of the mages guild it housed the largest and most prestigious magical university on Tamriel.
The tower holds many treasures, among which are a great library and animal pens with creatures from all over Tamriel.
It should be noted that there can be no fine line drawn as to when the Aldmer exactly became Altmer. While one source can talk of Aldmer until well into the First Era, others contradict that.
However, if a date must be drawn then it would make sense to put the transition at the time most important to the Aldmer/ Altmer mythically, the point after which they were no longer spiritually or physically whole as a race.
This is when Aldmeris was 'lost' to the elves and they had to adapt to living in a world no longer totally under their rule.
As such, in the article I have referred to them as Altmer from the time they settled in the Summerset Isles, which is around the time of the first elven exodus, when the Dwemer split away from the main group.
2012, written by Merari with thanks to Tecca and Deveron for editing and images.
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