|“||We Aldmer are proud, wise, and beautiful. Masters of arts, crafts, and sciences. Our pure, divine blood protects us from disease, and makes us the natural born spellcasters.||”|
The Aldmer, which translates to the Elder Folk or First Folk in Aldmeris, are a race of elves that made their home in the Summerset Isles in southwestern Tamriel. They are said to have originated from the lost continent of Aldmeris, but what fate befell the continent is unknown. They were the dominant race of Tamriel for most of the Merethic Era, before new elven groups splintered off from them to carve their own realms across the continent, like the Ayleids, Dwemer, Falmer and Orsimer. To the humans the Aldmer are known as Elder Elves due to being the ancestors of all elven races. To the Ayleids they are called the Salache.
Aldmeri myths state that the Aldmer were born from the Old Ehlnofey, the original spirits that sacrificed their divinity so that Mundus could be stabilized. The Old Ehlnofey were followers of Auri-El and fought alongside him during the Ehlnofey Wars of the Dawn Era. They warred against Lorkhan and his followers, the Wanderers. Lorkhan had tricked the Aedra during the creation of Nirn, sapping their divinity and causing them to be bound to Mundus. For this Auri-El called the Convention in the first tower, Ada-Mantia, to punish the trickster. The war was won by Auri-El's forces when Trinimac slew Lorkhan, but the continent of the Ehlnofey was sundered. The survivors of the war lived on in the continent of Aldmeris, eventually becoming the Aldmer.
Though Aldmeris met a similar fate to Old Ehlnofey and was lost, causing the elves to have to flee to a new homeland. No history of the lost-continent survived the event, only the mental image of an endless city with spiral towers remains in the collective minds of the elven people. What is known is that someone in Aldmeris' early history, an ambitious Aldmer named Orgnum tried to overthrow the monarchy. He failed, however, and was banished from the continent along with his followers. A powerful spell called the Veil of Mist was cast so that the exiles could never again find Aldmeris. Unbeknownst to the Aldmer, Orgnum and his people survived and made it to the island of Pyandonea where they built a kingdom of their own with Orgnum becoming its immortal king. These exiles became the Maormer, the first of many new elven races to splinter from the Aldmer.
After Aldmeris was lost, Torinaan the Foresailor led a group of scout vessels to find the Aldmer a new home. He landed on the island which he later named Auridon and swore a blood-oath to never leave it. He founded the city of Firsthold and began the colonization process with his sailors. Not long after the rest of the Aldmeri refugee fleet arrived and began to settle Auridon and the larger island to its west, later named Summerset from which the archipelago drew its name. When the Aldmer settlers were threatened by beasts known as the Gheatus, Ilyadi, and Welwa, Torinaan used the spells of his ancestors to slay them and render the land safe. For this the King of the Aldmer made Torinaan High Lord of Auridon. The Aldmer settling Alinor also came into conflict with the Sloads, slug-like beastfolk which had called the island home. The elves drove them to the out just as Torinaan had done with the other natives that endangered the elven settlements. Though unlike the other beasts, the Sloads survived and made a new home in the Thrassian archipelago, from where they would continue to fight against the elves for millennium.
In the early days of the elven colonization of the islands, survival was the most important matter. Everyone needed to pitch in to make sure the colony prospered. This led to an egalitarian society forming in the new elven homeland, where the lowest farmer was just as valuable and important as the highest noble. Some considered this a utopian time, while others considered it the lowest point in Aldmer civilization. As food supplies became stable and the dangerous wildlife was subdued, the elven population was no longer on the verge of extinction and their society began to revert change. What was once an egalitarian dream became a rigid caste-based system of overbearing religious dogma and strict customs and traditions. It was during this time that the city of Alinor was built on Summerset and became the new capital of the Aldmeri royalty. The greatest creation of the Aldmer, however, was the Crystal Tower - known as Crystal-Like-Law.
The new caste-system allowed the Aldmer to focus on expansion and they began to colonize mainland Tamriel, sending famous explorers like Topal the Pilot. Their first colonization effort was on Valenwood, the forest lands just across the Blue Divide from Auridon. However, Valenwood proved too difficult to settle with its impenetrable jungles and dangerous wildlife, so they focused their efforts elsewhere. One such example was the failure of Ostion, which ended in the total abandonment of the colony. Only the coastal colonies like the city of Haven remained. Topal had secured the Heartlands of Tamriel, having purchased the Eight Islands at its center from the Bird Folk. Numerous colonies sprang up in those lands. The Deathlands to the north of Summerset also attracted many colonies. To the far north, the Direnni Clan - a farming family that had amassed large wealth - settled the Iliac Bay area and built the first client kingdom, Direnneth.
There were, however, numerous dissidents that rebelled against what they perceived as the corruption of the utopia that had been built in the Summerset Isles. The first of these were the Psijics, monks that followed the Old Ways - equal worship of all ancestor spirits rather than the strict dogma of the Aedric Pantheon. The Psijic Order settled on the third largest island, Artaeum, and maintained a strained relationship with the rest of Aldmeri society. The Aldmeri royalty tolerated their existence because the Psijics were the strongest magickal practitioners of all the Aldmer. The same could not be said of the second group to split, who rejected the Aldmeri religion entirely and believed only in their gods of logic and reason. These dissidents had been mages, scholars and engineers. They perceived the strict society of the Aldmer as stopping the advancement of their research and so departed from the Isles for mainland Tamriel. They settled as far from the Aldmer lands as possible in a land they called Dwemereth. There they built vast underground cities and rapidly advanced their technology, creating living machines, obtaining steam power and building flying ships. These were the Dwemer, the Deep Elves. They were the first to completely sever their connection to the Aldmer.
Another group of dissidents were idealists that wished a return to the egalitarian way of life. Their leader, Arenthil the Greenspeaker, led his followers to Valenwood, where they settled in the Reaper's March and founded the city of Arenthia. Many others fled to Valenwood to attempt to live in the hostile woodland out from under the thumb of the Aldmeri nobility. Many others were forced into exile in Valenwood, having been banished as criminals. Among them the Red Prince, Caman-Ran, who attempted to overthrow his father the king. These settlers of Valenwood became the Bosmer, the Wood Elves, after generations of living under harsh conditions. They had little interaction with the Aldmer due to living mostly in the inaccessible jungles of inner Valenwood.
The largest movement of dissidents were the Daedra worshipers, who rejected the Aedra as their ancestor-gods and instead revered the three Daedric Princes: Azura, Boethiah and Mephala. They were led by their prophet Veloth and planned a mass exodus from Summerset to escape persecution for their beliefs. Their movement was so large that Trinimac and his followers had to intervene. Though when the Warrior-God tried to stop them, he was consumed by Boethiah and his remains transformed into the Daedric Prince Malacath. Trinimac's loyal followers were warped like their god and became the Orsimer, the Pariah Folk. Some Orsimer settled in Valenwood, while others traveled to the northern mountains of Tamriel. Veloth led his people to Dwemereth, where they settled the surface and lived in relative peace with the Dwemer. They became the Chimer, the Changed Folk.
Not long after the Chimer's exodus, another religious cult came into conflict with the Aldmeri Church. They were heretics who believed in Auriel, God of the Sun. Their beliefs were incompatible with the dogma of Auri-El and so they were driven out of Summerset. They eventually settled on the northern lands they called Mereth, and became the Falmer, the Snow Elves, to adapt to their new homeland.
The last of these splinters in the elven people were one that took centuries to occur. Since the start of the colonization of the Heartlands of Tamriel, called Cyrodiil, a movement of individualistic, pragmatic and cynical elves grew in secret. They spread throughout the colonies, keeping themselves hidden from the Aldmeri government as they grew in power. Many of them began to deal with the Daedra to increase their influence. Others worshiped a pantheon closer to the Old Ways known as the Ten Ancestors. They even developed a secret language to communicated with each other. Their ideals may have been different, but their goal was the same. To gain independence from the Aldmeri Kingdom. Their plot culminated after the construction of the White-Gold Tower in their Citadel in the center of the Eight Islands purchased long ago by Topal. They severed ties with the King of Alinor and formed the Ayleid Empire, the Hidden Empire. While originally called the Cyrod-Aldmer or Cyromer, they adopted the identity of Ayleids, the Hidden Ones.
All of these splinters caused the power of the Aldmer to wane as the centuries passed. Once the dominant power in all of Tamriel, the Ayleids supplanted the Aldmer in the Late Merethic Era. Though the Ayleid dominion would not last as the descendants of the Wanderers, the humans, would eventually topple their rule. The Aldmer, though, lived on in their island kingdom.
The Aldmer have very consistent skin, hair and eye colors. It is said that they are the ones that most closely resemble their Aedric ancestors. Aldmer skin tones are shades of gold, ranging from a bright humble gold to a darker gallant gold color. Their hair colors are equally fair, ranging from a bright golden fleece to a darker dull gold color. When Aldmer reach their twilight years, their hair turns the color of white-gold. Aldmer eye colors range from honey yellow to deep amber. The average male height of the Aldmer is from 1.88 to 2.18 meters, while females have an average 1.83 to 2.11 meters. The Aldmer, like other elves have an average lifespan of 300 years. However, due to their magical prowess many of them are able to extend this to live for several more centuries. Generally, elves from ages 0-15 are considered children, from 16-25 are considered adolecents, from 26-70 are considered young adults, from 71-150 are considered adults, from 151-200 are considered middle aged, and over 200 are considered elders.
- Contingency: Can prepare multiple spells at once into a magical matrix to cast under a specific condition
- Elemental Talent: Increased damage with Destruction spells
- Gift of Magic: Increased magicka pool
- Highborn: Regenerate magicka faster
- Phynaster's Boon: Resist Fatigue 25%
- Spell Focus: Concentration cannot be broken while charging or casting a spell
Aldmeri culture has gone through numerous shifts over the Merethic Era. How much it resembles their original culture from their supposed homeland of Aldmeris is uncertain. Upon their arrival on the Summerset Isles, Aldmeri culture was one based on egalitarian agrarian principals. Though as their residence on the islands became permanent and their civilization grew, it became one of strict religious dogma and overbearing traditions. This shift led to many splinters, the first among them being with the Psijics secluding themselves on Artaeum to keep to the "Old Ways" and outside the corruption they saw in the growing Aldmeri society.
Elven culture was initially egalitarian due to the Aldmer having arrived on the Summerset Isles with little to their name. They were refugees from their lost homeland and so there was little difference between the nobility and the commoners. Farmers and workers were extremely valuable in the early decades of the colonization of the islands, with no room for pompousness or vanity. As the Aldmeri settlements grew, food supplies became plentiful, conditions stabilized. When survival was no longer a worry, the elves began to change. Artists could flourish, explorers could venture out into the new continent and the nobility and clergy could once again assert their dominance over the common folk. To some this was a corruption of the idealistic, almost utopian society of the earlier civilization. At the top of this caste-systems were the Wise, who served as teachers and priests, followed by the Artists, Princes, Warriors, Landowners, Merchants, and Workers. At the bottom were the tamed beasts, such as the Goblins who were native to Summerset, which were enslaved.
Aldmeri culture evolved into one obsessed with preserving itself, for it considered itself perfect. An aspect of this was the elves' obsession with lineage. This led to Aldmeri nobility to try to preserve their lineages by keeping them pure, often marrying cousins so as not to pollute their line with the blood of commoners. The priests of Xarxes recorded the elven genealogy as far back as the arrival of the Aldmer to the Summerset Isles. Aldmeri names became the embodiment of that obsession, as the elves used their names to trace their entire genealogy. It led to taking several minutes just to speak one's name. To save time in conversation only the first name was used in informal conversation, while the full name was reserved for documents and conversations between nobility or royalty.
An Aldmer's full name, when used in special occasions, is always recited as such:
- <given name> <honorific> 'len <mother's name> <matrilinial grandmother's name> <matrilinial grandfather's name> <etc.> 'ata <father's name> <patrilinial grandmother's name> <patrilinial grandfather's name> <etc.> 'cal <Clan Name>
Great-grandparents and further ancestors are included in an Aldmer's full name if they are known an especially if they were individuals of notable renown. Because of this reciting an Aldmer's full name can take several minutes and those of noble birth have names so long they might take an hour to recite. Aldmer take great pride in having very extensive full names, as it means that their lineage can be traced back several generations and is a sign of their pedigree and noble upbringing if they can recite their full name without mistakes. Intentionally making mistakes when reciting another Aldmer's full name is seen as a great affront not only to them but their ancestors as well.
Honorifics for the ancestor's names may also be included, added with a "-" between the given name and the honorific. The Clan of the Aldmer may also have an honorific, denoting the specific branch of the clan that the individual's house belongs to. In such a case the house honorific is placed before the clan name and also separated by a "-".
The Aldmeri religion centers around the group of deities referred to as the Aedra, which translates to "Our Ancestors". The Aldmer believe that they are descended from their gods and were once just like them, immortal omnipotent beings. It was only due to the treachery of Lorkhan that they lost their divinity. According to the Psijic Order, the Aldmer used to worship all their ancestors spirits, not only the select few that were deified by the Aldmeri Church. To them this was seen as part of the "Old Ways" which was lost to the Aldmer over time through the "corruption of their society". The dogma of the Aldmeri church holds that the Aedra are:
- Auri-El: God of Time. King of the Aedra and the Aldmer. He was created from the soul of Anui-El. The Aldmer claim direct descent from Auri-El. It is he who established the Kingdom of Aldmeris for his followers following the Ehlnofey Wars. At the end of the Dawn Era he ascended to Aetherius in full observance of his followers so that they might learn the steps needed to escape the mortal plane. Lorkhan is his opposite in every way.
- Anui-El: The Soul of All Living Things. He is the representation of everlasting ineffable light. Anui-El was created from the soul of Anu. Some consider him to be the embodiment of Aetherius itself, just as his opposite, Sithis, is the embodiment of the Void.
- Anu: The Everything. A primordial being of status, order and light. He is the counterpart to Padomay. Anu birthed his own soul after his battle with Padomay, so that he could understand himself and self-reflect. This soul was Anui-El, who later birthed Auri-El to stabilize the Aurbis.
- Jephre: God of Song and the Forest. It is said that he molded every aspect of nature with his song. He keeps the balance of nature. The one thing Jephre will not tolerate is the harmful manipulation of the natural order of things. It is said that he blessed the elves with their beauty. Known as Jephre the Singer.
- Mara: Goddess of Love and Marriage. She is the consort of Auri-El, having wed him after Ehlnofey Wars. It is said that Auri-El saved her from servitude under Lorkhan. Known as Mara the Mother.
- Phynaster: Hero-God of the Summerset Isles. He was said to have aided Foresailor Torinaan lead the survivors of the lost continent of Aldmeris to their new home in the Summerset Isles. Known as Phynaster the Rogue.
- Syrabane: God of Magic. He is the favored deity of students of magic, earning him the title of "the Apprentices' God". He is the patron of the Psijic Order. Known as Syrabane the Mage.
- Trinimac: God of Might. He is described as the strongest of the Aedra and the champion of Auri-El. He led armies against the forces of Lorkhan during the Ehlnofey Wars. Trinimac was the one to defeat Lorkhan and tear out his heart. During the Merethic Era, Trinimac tried to stop the Chimer from leaving the Summerset Isles, and was consumed by Boethiah. What remained of him is said to have become the Daedric Prince Malacath. Trinimac's followers were, in turn, transformed into the Orsimer. Known as Trinimac the Warrior.
- Xarxes: God of Secret Knowledge and Ancestry. He was a scribe to Auri-El, and has kept track of all Aldmeri accomplishments since the beginning of time. He is the keeper of merish genealogies, and as such is a keeper of status and social stability for the Aldmer. Known as the One Who Watches.
- Xen: God of Toil. He was greatly important to the Aldmer during the time of their arrival in the Summerset Isles, when they lived an egalitarian agrarian lifestyle. Since then he has fallen out of favor, but is still worshiped by those of lower castes. Know as Xen the Farmer.
Magnus, while not considered an Aedra due to him having left Mundus before it was completed along with his followers, the Magna-Ge, is still worshiped as the God of Magic and Architect of Mundus. The most zealous followers of the Aedric dogma favor Syrabane as the true God of Magic and Wisdom, but Magnus still has a large following among the Aldmer.
The Aldmer also recognize deities that are worshiped by the humans. Though to the elves, they are not gods to be worshiped. Among them Lorkhan, the Great Trickster, and Stendarr, the Apologist of Men. Mara was also considered a human god, but due to her status as Auri-El's consort, she was accepted by the Aldmer in a way that Lorkhan and Stendarr were not.
Lorkhan is seen by the Aldmer as a adversary that must be defeated. In their pantheon he is considered the soul of Sithis, who in turn is the soul of Padomay. Sithis is the embodiment of Oblivion and Death. He hungers afters the pure souls of the Aldmer. Padomay is the personification of Chaos itself, the creator of all Daedra and Anu's opposite in their duo status of the Aurbis.
Jode and Jone, the Twin Moon Goddesses, were once worshiped by the Aldmer. Though their worship has lost favor with all but the Psijics. They were believed to have come to existence from the remains of Lorkhan and power of the tears and sorrow of Mara and Stendarr respectively.
- Celarion, former Psijic monk
- Gauldur (Half-Aldmer), Arch-Mage of the College.
- Oliis of Alinor, Psijic monk
- Rumare of Trinimac, Paragon of Trinimac
- Tamarilyne Rilis, Lady of Firsthold
- Topal the Pilot, famous explorer
- Clan Aldmeri: The royal lineage of Alinor. They claim direct descent from the kings of Aldmeris and Auri-El, the God of Time and King of the Aedra. Ruling members of the clan use the honorific Arana before 'Aldmeri', which together translates to "Ruler of the Aldmer".
- Clan Direnni: The rulers of Direnneth, heirs to Cygnus the Swan of Tyrigel. Vassals of the kings of Alinor.
- Clan Rilis: Heirs of Torinaan the Foresailor and the High Kinlords of Firsthold.
- Clan Ruavel: Descendants of Topal the Pilot, famous Aldmeri explorer. Risen up from lowborn status due to the riches that Topal brought back from his travels in Tamriel.