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The Races of TESO: Bosmer
by Merari, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
With The Elder Scrolls Online ever closer to 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 Bosmer.
Keep an eye peeled on the Articles section for more articles related to the races of TESO!
The Bosmer are a merish race from the province of Valenwood.
Mainly known as Wood Elves by the mannish races the Bosmer or Boiche as they call themselves are agile of body and quick of wit. They make excellent archers and thieves. Popular folklore has it that they invented the bow and arrow.
Among the gifts bestowed on them by their patron deity Y'ffre is the ability to rally simple-minded animals to their aid. They are well adapted to living in forested areas and have an uncanny ability to blend into the surroundings of these, making them rarely seen when they do not wish to be.
History of the Bosmer
The First Era is generally said to have begun with the founding of the Camoran dynasty by king Eplear of Valenwood. As such it can be said that recorded history began with the Bosmer.
Before the First Era Valenwood was a wild tropical forest, harboring many strange and dangerous creatures and civilisations. For the early Aldmeri explorers who settled the region the greatest challenge was to become predator instead of prey in its intricate biosphere.
They slowly pacified the forest and changed themselves to suit their new environment better and became Bosmer after making a pact with the forest god Y'ffre. In exchange for never harming the forest, which includes eating its vegetation, the Bosmer could call Valenwood their home and would receive various blessings and abilities. This Green Pact became the basis of Bosmer culture and tradition.
Male BosmerIn 1E340 the Bosmer signed a treaty with the First or Alessian Empire, in order to establish trade between the two nations. However, after only a few decades border skirmishes between Colovia and Valenwood erupted. These disputes would last for most of the First Era until the Thrassian plague of 1E2417. After the decimation this unnatural disease caused, the remnants of the once great Bosmer people were quickly assimilated into the Second or Reman Empire and Valenwood lost its independance.
The Empire utilised their traditional tactic of divide and conquer to consolidate their hold over Valenwood and it was divided up into districts that were set to compete one another, so as not to unite and threaten the Empire.
Just before the events of TESO the dissolution of the Empire brought chaos to Valenwood. Without Imperial oversight regional faction wars grew out of control and the land was plagued by largely uncontested bands of Maomer pirates. The Maomer were able to secure part of Valenwood for themselves and launched raids on the Summerset Isles from there. In order to protect themselves from the chaos to the north and the pirates to the east the Altmer cited an old treaty with the Bosmer as grounds for interference, quickly took over and brought peace to Valenwood. This was the beginnings of the Aldmeri Dominion. The Dominion's ruling faction of the Thalmor re-installed the Camorans as rulers of Valenwood, under their endorsement.
Culture and the Green Pact
Most important in Bosmer culture is the Green Pact made with the forest god Y'ffre. The pact forbids them from harming the vegetation of Valenwood in any way, this includes consumption. The Bosmer as a result are very nearly completely carnivorous. What little vegetable foodstuffs they ingest are imported from other provinces. The Bosmer did allow the Second Empire to construct a few roads through the forest, but they do not use them themselves as they have the skill to move quickly through dense vegetation and don't need roads. Because the Bosmer did not maintain these roads of the Empire they were nearly overgrown and subsided back into the forest by the time of the Aldmeri Dominion.
According to Bosmer belief they were 'torn between man and beast' in the Dawn Era before the Green Pact. The Pact with Y'ffre allowed them to stay stable in a form adapted for life in the forest, but when Valenwood or the Bosmeri are under grave threat they can revert back to their state of varied and rapidly altering forms. This requires a ritualistic invocation performed by many Bosmer and results in what is called the Wild Hunt, an orgastic onslaught of anything not native to Valenwood by monstrous abominations. Once begun the transformation is permanent and some of the Wild Hunt can survive until long after the threat which prompted their summoning has been vanquished.
By the time of TESO King Dead Wolf-Deer still stalks Valenwood, his Wild Hunt was in the fourth century of the First Era, almost three thousand years before. Willy the Bitten is another notable and long-surviving result of the same Wild Hunt who haunts the Silvenar Grove to this day.
While Y'ffre is the most important god in the Bosmer pantheon their worship also includes, among others, the lunar gods Jone and Jode, the elven gods Jephre the Singer and Auri-El. They are one of the few races on Tamriel to include the trickster god Baar-Dan in their worship. Some of the Eight of the Empire also have a place, notably Arkay, Z'en (Zenithar), Mara, Stendarr.
The Bosmer are fierce warriors but they fight defensive rather than aggressively. Valenwood has never invaded another territory and has to this day never started a war.
Regardless of this they are often seen as untrustworthy savages by other races, mainly because the Bosmer practice ritual cannibalism. Under the Green Pact not only are they not allowed to use any of Valenwoods plant material, they are also under obligation to consume their fallen enemies and deceased loved ones alike. This section of the Green Pact is known as the Meat Mandate.
Bosmer greatly value diversity, their names are often unique and especially created for the child and as such a family name is rarely neccessary to further distinguish between them. Their art and architecture can vary wildly from one place to the next and each artist follows his or her own design rather than adhere to a particular school of thought.
The Bosmer have always welcomed immigrants and refugees, though for their own comfort most foreigners stay in the larger cities and do not venture into the forest.
Valenwood is a sub-tropical province in the south-west of Tamriel. Heavily forested, it borders Cyrodiil to the north and Elsweyr to the east. Many strange creatures are rumoured to live between the trees; centaurs, hippogriffs, satyrs, minotaurs, giants, basilisks, fairy folk, hydra, and intelligent apes are all said to have made their home in Valenwood before the arrival of the first mer.
Bosmer cities are of special note, as several of the larger ones are situated entirely in the branches of enormous trees. These grahk-oaks, native to Valenwood, are migratory and slowly move south for summer and north again come winter. The largest city-tree is called Falinesti and is the home of the Bosmer royal court. Recently however Falinesti has for unknown reasons halted its migratory path and rooted itself into the ground.
2013 written by Merari, with thanks to Tecca and Horizon for editing and images
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