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Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:12 pm
A general concept proposal:
The Falmer were a primarily nomadic culture, eking out a natural existence in the frozen wastelands of northern Tamriel. They did not build many permanent structures, explaining the seemingly complete disappearance of any trace of their race from Skyrim's landscape. Lost shrines to their gods (possible super secret dungeons) might have been built atop the province's tallest peaks, where their priests could dwell in isolation and dedicate all their energies to worshiping the divine (and perhaps covertly contributing to the Aldmer's designs to return Nirn to an immortal plane of existence). High Hrothgar was their tower.
1. The broke away from their southern brethren to dwell in the north through centuries of migration, though their reasons for settling the unforgiving terrain should remain vague (or a complete mystery). They may have been a race spawned from outcasts of conventional Aldmer society
2. They were a tribe of mer that fled Aldmeris separately and never lived on the Isle of Summerset, perhaps leading the Aldmer to view the Falmer as heretics/savages.
Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:27 pm
We could use this uncertainty regarding their origin and have some imperial historians speculate in great lengths about it. I like the idea of viewing them as a nomadic culture that maybe contributed to the development of the nord culture more than commonly known.
Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:00 pm
Here's a tidbit about early Elven colonization efforts:
There appear to be lots of smaller Elven splinter factions colonizing Tamriel in the Late Merethic Era: Bosmer, Dwemer, Khajiiti root, Ayleid, etc. usually due to religious or philosophical differences with mainstream Aldmeri culture. The highly stratified society of Summerset was resistant to revolution due to the presence of Crystal-like-Law and the ancestor-gods like Trinimac, making exodus the favored form of dissent. The Aldmeri appear to have been permissive of this kind of emigration, only forbidding it by the time of the Dunmeri/Chimeri exodus, when the nations of Valenwood and the Ayleid Hegemony started becoming rivals to the dominion of Alinor.
The Falmer were likely members of this early, ill-documented wave of colonization. Elven colonies tended to spring up along the shorelines of Tamriel (the exception being the Ayleid, who followed the Niben to its origin), meaning that the Falmer must have landed on Skyrim's north shore (following the path of Topal the Explorer, who sailed around Tamriel starting from the northwest) and later made their way inland. For the Falmer to become nomads is actually quite likely, as the same thing occurred with the Dunmer: though the initial Velothi civilization appeared to be sedentary, Chimeri society was almost completely nomadic (after the model of the Ashlanders) when the Nords arrived.
Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:56 pm
Thanks for the insights, Infragris. Your explanation looks like the most logical explanation. We should probably keep the reason for the Falmer's initial exodus a mystery, like with the Dwemer.
Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:03 pm
I do not know I'm writing this post to the right place or not, but Ice Tribes from TES Dawnstar and Shadowkey have connection with Falmers?
Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:02 am
They were probably meant to be falmer. We can either put them in a category with Rieklings or treat them as evidence for living Falmer in Skyrim.
Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:21 am
I don't know if i post this in right place, but i wanna ask something about the Falmer or "Snow Elves"
Will we see or obtain some of Falmer's legacy like ruins, artifacts or any trace of their culture in SHOTN version Skyrim?
I know they are a "lost civilization" and obliterated by Ysgramor and Co. long, long time ago, but i really don't like that you couldn't see the trace of their ancient civilization in TES V : Skyrim (not those blind, deformed elves and their strange chitin-made weapons and armor, i mean the ancient falmer that battle against Ysgramor and 500 Companions). You can only see how their culture looked like if you install one of the expansion and it's simply doesn't make sense for me, because while Nords living in Skyrim now, Falmer OWNS the place before Atmorans even set their sails there, so there must be more evidence that Falmer were living in Skyrim.
Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 8:26 am
The general consensus around here is that the Falmer had a nomadic lifestyle. This would already explain the absense of ruins, but would still allow for archeological findings like jars or other things made of durable materials (we do have those in data actually and they are displayed in a museum in Markarth). I or we are still considering some kind of falmer sanctuary ruins, as we are a bit low with ruin types for the inside of the province. But we would probably deviate from Bethesdas representation seen in Dawnguard a fair bit then.
The Falmer are still a very mysterious topic. We know nearly nothing about them and a basic characterisation would probably help to decide what to do further about possible remnants.
Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 8:36 am
According to the "In Search of the Falmer" quest, Snow Elves were at least advanced enough to make steel armor. Can nomadic lifestyle support the necessary technology?
Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 10:36 am
I think the Falmer were mostly nomadic, but had cities and strongholds in which they gathered temporarily during the harshest winter, meeting for councils and trading. These were otherwise reserved for their highest castes. I don't think they were that primitive, but they could have had a special sacred relationship with the land and a culture/religion which promoted the nomadic lifestyle. Indeed it's still a topic that we should be explore more.
It should be noted that the armor on Solstheim belonged to one of their mightiest leaders.
Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 11:31 pm
I feel like they should have some sort of special location that is equivalent to a Mecca or a Vaes Dothrak (for any Game of Thrones fans). A one of a kind unique location/temple/village that is a permanent ruin. I'm imagining something like Mesa Verde except made of ice and glaciers instead of adobe and stone (or even stalhrim unless the decision was made to leave that only for Solstheim). Either way I think that would be a cool architectural idea. Southwestern Native American pueblos but made of ice.
Posted: Sat May 28, 2016 9:08 am
Something like Vaes Dothrak is actually just was I was thinking about in my earlier post.
Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:49 am
When and if we have Falmer ruins, these should be located near the tops of completely remote and impassable mountains. The exploration of Falmer ruins should be a huge reveal, similar to when you meet the last living Dwemer. You might even need levitation to get there. If we should have any organic remnants of Falmer besides frozen bones, I think a concept like self-mummification would be interesting. Falmer religious figures isolating themselves in sacred caves, meditating and starving to their death. Sitting in frozen solitude for eras, until the player stumbles upon their remains. Too similar to the ash mummies of Vvardenfell?
According to Victor H. Mair in the Discovery Channel series The Mystery of the Tibetan Mummy, the self-mummification of a Tibetan monk, who died ca. 1475 and whose body was retrieved relatively incorrupt in the 1990s, was achieved by the sophisticated practices of meditation, coupled with prolonged starvation and slow self-suffocation using a special belt that connected the neck with his knees in a lotus position.
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Another architectural inspiration could be the Incan Empire with the large stone blocks and mountainous locations.
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Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:55 pm
I found a really cool Falmer idea
I believe Falmer architecture, with few exceptions, was a form of Magical Ice. Once the falmer were destroyed, that ice melted, and so no remains are left.
IMO, it just makes a lot of sense. We already know of one enchanted ice type (stalhrim), and there's an ice castle on Solstheim (which is of course a bit crude to be of elven origin, but still has some nice things, like magical icy light sources).
Altmer supposedly have cities built of glass, and one could say ice is not unlike it, so it would be an ice connection too. (sorry)
So yeah, how about featuring a couple of lost unmelted Falmer ice locations in SHotN? They could be centered around a magical source that haven't ran dry yet, like those magicka wells, or great welkynd stones Ayleids had. There could also be a nice dynamic change in these locations once Player destroys or steals the source - the ice walls begin cracking, waterfalls appear everywhere, water level rises, previously unmovable ice doors guarding treasures melt away, all the fun stuff like this.
Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:01 pm
Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:44 pm
Another thing I forgot to say - this could potentially add a new side to the ancient conflict between Nords and Falmeri -the elves used enchanted ice for their buildings, but it required quite a bit of magicka to support, while stalhrim is seemingly stable. So Falmer coveted the secret of stalhrim so they could make their ice fortresses everlasting, while Nords used the stalhrim only for sacred rituals of burial and saw elven magic ice as a profane imitation.
Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:59 pm
That sounds great, like a missing puzzle piece for Falmer conceptualization. I imagine the main axis of conflict might have been much more mundane than profaning Stalhrim, then - Falmers needed frost for their civilization to survive, and maintained it with their magic, and on the other hand Nords civilization needed heat to live and grow from its infancy. The clash was inevitable.
How feasible would Karstaag's tileset be here? If I remember correctly it isn't versatile at all, with one-piece meshes and so on. Would it require much work to cut it into something more or less tileable?
There were also these two mods by Vality and MA, too, that we should check:
But unless I'm mistaken, they just operate on PC's Ayelid assets and retextured vanilla daedric tileset?
Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:04 pm
While I like the idea, I don't think it should be the defining characteristic of their culture. Much more of a hidden tidbit of lore that will be revealed only when you find one of the very few remaining ice temples.
And we'd need a new tileset for it.
Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:56 pm
roerich wrote:While I like the idea, I don't think it should be the defining characteristic of their culture. Much more of a hidden tidbit of lore that will be revealed only when you find one of the very few remaining ice temples.
And we'd need a new tileset for it.
Agree on both points. Although I can imagine modern Nords thinking of Falmer as just one-dimensional ice fairies.
Posted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:33 pm
I know it's too early to discuss things like that, but I found this eerie sound
recently and I'm in love with it. Maybe it can work as Falmer ice-magic sound, to be placed by some Falmer artifacts/altars? Imagine it in an unwelcoming, melting, frozen dungeon, accompanied with vanilla cave_drip and icecracking sounds.
Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:33 am
Heh, it reminds me of the opening bar of Peaceful Waters
Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 7:00 pm
I love that sound, I almost think that an extended, softer version could be used as a sort of ambiance in Falmer structures
Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:17 am
What about making Falmers descendands of the Orsimer? This would explain their origin/savage lifestyle pretty good.
Let's say they were the Aldmer (?) that were so angry and confused after being changed into Orsimer that they believed some kind of prophet (too similar to Veloth?) that they have left for spiritual journey to the snow covered lands.
As for cultural inspiration (earlier mentioned were Buddhist/Incans) why not take the easy way and base them on Inuits?
Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:52 pm
I agree with a lot of what has been written here on this topic. I especially like the idea of some mystery over exhaustive detail, in-game. For some reason, I now find myself actually wanting to add my thoughts to a forum. I don't want to be stepping on already established plans, I just want to lay out what has made sense to me over the years. I have indeed taken some inspiration from other posts here (the mummies), but mostly it is a happy overlap of interpretation. I've broken it down into a few separate posts, as I ended up writing more than I thought I would.
I'm now going to sandwich some of my criticisms here:
*wintering in cities and strongholds might make sense, but I think such large sites would have been destroyed and the materials repurposed by the Nords to remove the elven blemish from their land
*a Vaes Dothrak type of city made sense for a nomadic steppe culture whose economy was based on raiding and slavery and such a large site would be on a large valley floor, just waiting to the Nordified
*any comparison to Dunmer society should be coincidental, considering their form of tribalism evolved under the influence of Boethiah's, Mephala's and Azura's teachings and all inherent distrust/competition that follows from that ideology, which can be seen in the architecture and social fabric in Morrowind
*regarding ice architecture, I agree it should be something uncommon, otherwise they may as well be the Ice Tribes of Dawnstar. I'm not sure if something like the welkynd stone/ayleid well fits the Falmer. The Ayleid loved light and even sent ships to capture stones from the sky, I think. Welkynd stones make sense in that kind of background. Although I do like the idea of a wall of ice sealing a vault.
*I think stahlrim should be kept as a Nordic innovation, I don't see why the millennia old Falmer civilisation would go to war over it
Hopefully, the following thoughts should explain my critique. Here goes...
Origins & Culture
Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:10 pm
"One creation myth suggests that Atmora was once a part of Tamriel and became a separate landmass as a result of war among the Ehlnofey. Another Altmeri myth asserts that Auri-El established one of the first Elven kingdoms, "Altmora", there before ascending to heaven. According to Nordic tradition, after men were formed when Kyne breathed onto the Throat of the World, they then migrated north to Atmora. With the help of Shor and others, men eventually overthrew the elves, expelled them from Atmora and claimed the land for themselves."
What if all three myths are true? Maybe the Aldmer colonised Altmora/Elder Wood, as part of a greater Aldmer “commonwealth”. The discovery of men inevitably led to the war and it makes sense that men would expel all elves from Altmora to remove one of the war-fronts and create a safe haven for their non-combatant population.
“Auri-El pleaded with Anu to take them back, but he had already filled their places with something else. But his soul was gentler and granted Auriel his Bow and Shield, so that he might save the Aldmer from the hordes of Men. Some had already fallen, like the Chimer, who listened to tainted et'Ada, and others, like the Bosmer, had soiled Time's line by taking Mannish wives. Auriel could not save Altmora, the Elder Wood, and it was lost to Men. They were chased south and east to Old Ehlnofey, and Lorkhan was close behind. He shattered that land into many. Finally, Trinimac, Auriel's greatest knight, knocked Lorkhan down in front of his army and reached in with more than hands to take his Heart. He was undone." [Monomyth]
Auri-El must have been deeply ashamed of the deaths of so many et’Ada and of the diminished power the survivors of Nirn’s creation were left with. Hoping “to make up for his error” and save the Aldmer from further corrupting influences, “Auri-El led the original Aldmer against the armies of Lorkhan in mythic times, vanquishing him and establishing the first kingdoms of the Altmer, Altmora and Old Ehlnofey”. It is reasonable to infer that, post-war, previously Aldmer-colonised regions may have been politically established as kingdoms for security reasons.
Altmora’s Aldmer population may have been changed by their time there, in its pre-polar taiga environment. Just as the Bosmer and the Chimer (and maybe the Ayleid) were changed by their environments and/or circumstances, the Aldmer of Altmora may have become the Falmer, depending on how many generations of them had lived there. Also consider the Dwemer, “who already occupied the northeast of Tamriel when Veloth and his people arrived there”. After being expelled by men from the Elder Wood, they may have preferred the taiga of northern Tamriel. Taiga (which has relatively low annual precipitation, thin cold acidic soil poor in nutrients, with a forest floor of lichen in northern taiga and largely moss in southern taiga) can only support some agriculture in the southern regions that have a longer growing season. A nomadic/semi-nomadic pastorialist lifestyle (herding for milk and transportation), with fishing, hunting and gathering likely developed (like various Siberian peoples herding reindeer). The materials at their disposal for dwellings, clothing, tools, weapons and armour may well have been mostly wood, antler, bone, fur, hide, bark, tundra cotton, etc. What little metal there was to be casually found in Altmora would’ve been bog iron, reserved for prestige items of tribal leaders, as with the ancient steel armour and spear of the Snow Prince to be found on Solstheim (Sarmatian steppe tribes were once described as making armour vests from horse hooves and arrows from bone) (much of the metal used by Vikings was processed from bog iron). The use of a metal like bronze for religious purposes, such as reliquaries and statues, would also make sense. Numerically depleted by their probably heavy losses from Altmora’s fall, nomadism may have helped them avoid further conflict during the remainder of Auri-El’s war. Nomadism would also help explain the lack of material proof of their existence (nomads don’t tend to have much use for anything that can’t be easily transported).
After the ascension of Auri-El, “in full observance of his followers so that they might learn the steps needed to escape the mortal plane”, the separation of the Falmer from Aldmer/Altmer society and their nomadic tendencies implies they were more likely to maintain the early Aldmer communal spirit and egalitarian philosophy, as opposed to the rigidly stratified hierarchy that developed in Altmer society. Annual tribal gatherings for social and trade purposes, with “national” gatherings for secular-religious purposes every few years would make sense in such a society.
Regarding the popular spirit ancestors/Aedra, the Falmer, if relatively isolated since the colonisation of Altmora, would not have been subject to the elite dominance effect that took hold on Altmer society, where over time the lower classes stopped worshipping their own "lower” ancestors in favour of the ancestors of the ruling classes. The Psijics, who opposed the evolution of the Altmer Pantheon, upheld the Old/Elder Way of Aldmeris, a philosophy of meditation and study related to the magic of Mysticism. “According to these Old Ways, spirits are believed by the Order to be the ancestors of the living, even the Daedra and Aedra are considered to be nothing other than exceptional spirits who attained great power in the afterlife”.
Falmer religious beliefs were most likely closer to the Psijics than the Altmer. Auri-El’s ascension was the crowning achievement of an exceptional spirit, if not a god or a saint, then a revered teacher whose example could be followed. The redemption of his worthiness may have inspired a tradition of monastic meditation, implying the existence of sites that were permanently inhabited by priests/monks, where the nomadic Falmer would have held their gatherings and collated their records, laws, judgements, writings, genealogies, relics and maybe ancestral remains.
Such a monastic tradition could be inferred by using something like the Great Statue of Irkngthand, which implied so much about the Falmer (even more so in the absence of a spoken or written word near it). Such a Falmer statue in an isolated cavern or ruined temple-monastery makes sense from lore, story and gameplay perspectives.
It follows that architecture that enhances the meditative experience by minimising its impact on its surroundings would make sense. It’s reasonable to assume the Nords would have destroyed any Falmer construction that could be easily seen or found, so only the most minimalist structures hidden in almost inaccessible remote locations would survive Nord colonisation.
The Nordic Influence
Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:17 pm
“For a time, relations between Men and Elves were harmonious, and the Nords throve in the new land, summoning more of their kin from the North to build the city of Saarthal”.
“Elves...fell upon the unsuspecting Nords in the infamous Night of Tears...Ysgramor returned to Tamriel with a vengeance, driving the Elves out of Skyrim”.
“It may be that the exploits of the near-mythical Ysgramor conflate the reigns of several early Nord Kings, as the Elves were not finally driven from the present boundaries of Skyrim until the reign of King Harald, the thirteenth of Ysgramor's line”.
“Ysgramor's provocations and blasphemies have, of course, been long forgotten”.
The biggest implication, regarding the fate of the Falmer, is that it took 13 rulers (presumably over three/four centuries) to gain dominion over Skyrim. After taking their revenge for the Night of Tears, the Nords probably colonised Skyrim in a piecemeal manner; colonising new land, building a fortified mountain village, increasing their numbers and expanding again. Even if the Falmer were capable of prolonged conflict, their nomadic tribes would’ve been decimated by direct conflict and/or reduced resources and then pushed out, one valley at a time. Ever increasing competition over ever decreasing resources would’ve forced many to leave their tribe and homeland; “...they intermingled with the other Elven races...they just faded away...and ceased to exist as an identifiable culture” [Athellor]. The natural process of integration and intermarriage into a host society would have made Falmer elders, those with any foresight, secure their peoples’ relics and writings in their most remote and hidden temple-monasteries (it may have been culturally indecent to take relics far from their ancestors’ remains). Smaller groups/tribes may have stayed hidden in “remote mountain fastnesses” of Skyrim, both because they couldn’t bring themselves to leave and to protect their ancestors remains and the contents of their temple-monasteries’ repositories.
TESV’s “Diary of Faire Agarwen” is an example of how random bits of translated information can be used. Although, it’s more believable that the bulk of the Falmer would have fled/emigrated over the centuries, stragglers stuck in Nord territory and those taken captive (slavery doesn’t quite make sense for Nord or Falmer societies; at least I don’t remember any proof of it pre-TESV’s “Song of the Return”) may have used an underground network of sympathetic Nords to escape, rather than try to hide in plain sight in a Nord-homogenous Skyrim or enter into blind servitude under the Dwemer (even if the Falmer had no option but to submit to the Dwemer in this way, it’s more than likely they would’ve been slaughtered by the Dwemer mechanical protectors just as soon as there were no Dwemer left to command otherwise).
The notion that the Ice Tribes of Dawnstar and Glacier Crawl were descended from Falmer is plausible, considering how the Falmer diverged from their Aldmer ancestors. With the annihilation of the Glacier Crawl tribe in 3E 397 and the potentially irreversible population losses suffered by the Dawnstar tribe in 3E 396, it’s entirely possible that any relics of their Falmer heritage remain where they were hidden, even three decades later.
NPC's, Story & Gameplay
Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:27 pm
“I saw signs that might be Falmer boundary-runes, but nothing sure. If any survive, they are wary and withdrawn“.
If any Falmer survive by the late 3E, it seems likely these NPC’s would have frost resistance (75%). A bit more willpower would suit them, tempered by a bit less strength and personality. Skills that might suit their heritage would include the spear, archery and light armour. The magical needs of these Falmer could be met by the schools of mysticism and alteration (even if NPC’s are unable to jump/levitate/slowfall/teleport, it could be implied by random dialogue and the positioning of a repository/vault entrance, maybe a new Falmer Intervention spell could be seen in action). A cultural preference for shock spells may also help explain the Nord resistance to shock.
Athellor, the Altmer nobleman living in Raven Rock, had some very interesting dialogue about the Falmer. When his quest is done, he says “...I'm afraid I'll be leaving shortly, however. I'm heading off to Skyrim, you see...after a drink or three. I have renewed confidence in my quest now, thanks to you, and am eager to see what I may discover in the Nords' homeland. Farewell, and keep exploring!". If it’s possible, he would be a very useful tool in a Falmer questline (maybe he even changed his name to reflect his Falmer heritage!?). Perhaps Athellor has even attracted the attention of a group of elven scholars, most likely funded by the Mages Guild and maybe the Direnni of Balfiera. It’s doubtful the Nords, nor indeed most Altmer, would support such fanciful nonsense.
It’s likely the Falmer would not speak human languages, so an elven translator would be required for communication (this could be used to insinuate their fear/distrust/contempt of any non-mer). They could also just outright kill any Nord guides/bodyguards, stopping only when they see elves...
Perhaps there are even a few Falmer tribes to be (eventually) found, with each believing they are the last of their kind. It could be interesting to help them reconnect and re-establish a Falmer “Council”. This council might then face several choices between Nord and Imperial authority, foreign embassies, etc.
Falmer relics and books found in the few places they could possibly survive could be brought to the scholars for study and translation to discover their academic and financial value, which could lead to an interesting choice between the Falmer or the black market (I always liked the idea of the private collector seen in TESIV). The spear and armour of the Snow Prince could be an interesting reward choice, especially if there’s a need to prove your intentions towards the tribe.
The most fun implications are the development of rival interests;
• the most obvious being the sentiment between the Falmer and the general Nord populace, who still “attribute almost any misfortune or disaster to the machinations of the Falmer” (this might only require random dialogue post-discovery)
• the Nord ruling class may have an opportunistic and/or murderous agenda, as surely as they do in the Reach (but more tempered by their subjects prejudice)
• within the Mages Guild contingent many elven scholars might be more protective of the Falmer than the Guilds’ interests usually allow
• of course, the Empires' usual tendency to use any excuse to extend imperial authority/ideology, most visibly from the Mages Guild, the Imperial Cult and the Imperial Legion, trade companies, etc.
• private collectors/museums and the Falmer.
All that said, the mystery of implied titbits can be vastly more effective than the details. Even if none of this ever appears in-game, I hope this kind of helps to inform the design of architecture, society, questlines, etc.