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Race change in lore?

SASChris
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From a lore perspective, does the ability to change one's race make any sense? From a gameplay perspective I can see why this would be ignored even if it were not "lore friendly", otherwise I imgaine it would be able to be handwaved in the same manner as how Cyrodiil's climate or the race of certain key figures within the lore is handled (IE some longer but more complex explanation, a character's race never having been clearly defined or forgotten or simply a retcon of some kind).

Really my question is just if there is some sort of magic or some device or technology within the Elder Scrolls universe that allows someone the ability to change their race beyond some curse set upon them by a god or goddess.
  • alberichtano
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    SASChris wrote: »
    From a lore perspective, does the ability to change one's race make any sense? From a gameplay perspective I can see why this would be ignored even if it were not "lore friendly", otherwise I imgaine it would be able to be handwaved in the same manner as how Cyrodiil's climate or the race of certain key figures within the lore is handled (IE some longer but more complex explanation, a character's race never having been clearly defined or forgotten or simply a retcon of some kind).

    Really my question is just if there is some sort of magic or some device or technology within the Elder Scrolls universe that allows someone the ability to change their race beyond some curse set upon them by a god or goddess.

    Not that I am aware of, no, though I am admittedly not the most learned when it comes to lore. It is strictly a gameplay thing. Many things in ESO make little sense in lore and compared to older games - the whole class system, for example, is nonexistent in older games, other than as "bonus on skill learning". Everyone can learn every skill in TES-games (or at least in the later ones, I never got to play Arena or Daggerfall), and there were no specific class skills as there are here. Again, a gameplay thing.
  • Taris
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    Only thing close to it is maybe Alchemy from Summerset.
    https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Alchemy_(person)

    She changed her gender through magic. Soo maybe? At least as far as looks go.
  • Eporem
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    ...
    Edited by Eporem on March 20, 2022 1:34PM
  • WrathOfInnos
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    I don't think it really fits into the lore. If there was a "Race Change Merchant" NPC then yes it may require some justification, but that's not the case. Race change is an action performed from the login menu, just like character creation. It exists as a convenience and money maker, and once you change to a new race it effectively has always been that race once you log in. Just like a new Altmer has always been Altmer when you first create it.
  • Eporem
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    there are cases though in game found in side quests where transformations have occurred. One example I can think of is the quest A Goblins Affection where an apprentice mage transformed his brother into a female goblin and another might be of the Dunmer wishing to change into a Khajiit though when he drinks a potion (transformation potion?) becomes an Argonian instead. So I do believe in lore, ingame, there are spells and potions that do allow transformations that can explain race changes.

    Near the Ashen Road Wayshrine (map), Valdam Andoren will say "My apprentice thinks he's the arch-mage of a college." and tell you of how his apprentice Denthis Romori transformed his brother Dithis into a female goblin, resulting in him being kidnapped by the Shadowsilk Goblin Tribe as a wife for their leader, Chieftain Grimmstal.

    https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:A_Goblin's_Affection
    Edited by Eporem on March 20, 2022 1:02PM
  • Supreme_Atromancer
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    There's little, if any, explicit lore mentions of such a thing that I'm aware of. I'm sure there are instances in the great volume of story-telling in ESO where race change happens, though I think this sort of thing tends to be a non-commital hand-waivy device to serve the plot, and the degree to which any could be considered to be serious weighty canon that will ever be revisited would be pretty dubious.

    Having said that, its important to keep in mind that trait inheritance doesn't work the same in Tamriel as it does in the real world. Typically, the race of a cross-breed is that of its mother. There seems some wriggle-room there for justifying a race change.

    Some races are reasonably closely related. A high-elf race change into a Breton, for instance, could be reasoned away as natural maturation process from a Breton with a particularly high proportion of Direnni blood to a more standard looking one. I guess the same could be said for- say- the various descendents of the Nedes, the Bretons, Imperials or Nords. There are locations for most combinations where half-breeds seem more likely, or race could be more plastic, I'd say.

    For anything more drastic, it would not seem unfitting for TES style story telling to resort to either magic or metaphysics. Illusion magic could achieve the cosmetic ends if that's what you're interested in, arguably mechanical aspects gel poorly anyway, and there's a sad move away from bothering having the numbers match up with the fantasy. Likewise, in Skyrim we have the Face Sculptor, who can change your appearance through some mysterious means. Though again, the results are cosmetic. For more deeply realised changes, by definition, Alteration magics seem to fit, and I can't see any canon reason they couldn't achieve true change of physicality or innate tendencies for magic or speed in water or resistance to fire or frost or whatever, if they are taken to be physiological phenomena. And finally, while the plasticity of Tiber Septim's race is probably another phenomenon altogether, if you're looking for ways to make it work in your personal story, you could probably leverage something like that, or the idea of "mantling" other beings.
    Edited by Supreme_Atromancer on March 27, 2022 10:26PM
  • SnazzleFraggle
    SnazzleFraggle
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    In all honesty, I think it's possible, through magic, or alchemy. One quest that comes to mind is one involved with this guy: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Vadelen_Indothan A dunmer who seems to despise his own race, and is trying to become a khajiit through alchemy. He turns into an argonian instead when he gets his stuff, and only momentarily.
  • HappyTheCamper
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    So technically this could fall under a “curse of a god,” but it’s less of a curse and more intentional. This also involves very arbitrary ES lore and is not proven:

    Beings in the elder scrolls have a separate secret/true name called their “nymic.” Some believe by changing one’s nymic or true self, they can alter their being and race. For example it’s believed the villain of TES VI Oblivion, Mankar Camoran, was once a bosmer (judging by his name and his Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes.) However he was once “razor fed” which had him abandon his name and family, and thus possibly changed him into a Altmer (as he appears in Oblivion game.) Razor fed by fan theory has led people to the artifact Mehrunes Razor dagger.

    Therefore, some believe the Mehrunes Razor artifact is able to alter someone’s race.

    Edit: I should have added this process is usually called “nymic surgery” by fans.

    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Nymic
    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Mythic_Dawn_Commentaries
    Edited by HappyTheCamper on April 29, 2022 12:27AM
  • Sjestenka
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    elephant in the room here, fellas. chimer to dunmer, entire bloody people \o/ make a daedra prince angry enough, and they'll change you into anything
  • Waterdesk
    Waterdesk
    Sjestenka wrote: »
    elephant in the room here, fellas. chimer to dunmer, entire bloody people \o/ make a daedra prince angry enough, and they'll change you into anything

    Yeah that’s a race change but OP excluded curses from Daedric Princes.

    Off the top of my head, the only thing that I can think of is when Jagar Tharn impersonated Uriel Septim, but that’s not really a race change. Also, I’m not sure if the various Human races are actually separate races. I recall there being an Imperial and Redguard mixed person in the Dragon Hold dlc who seemed to look like a mixed person rather than Redguard, so I guess race changes among the human races are believable or can at least be pretty fluid.

    Edited by Waterdesk on April 4, 2022 9:48AM
  • WraithCaller88
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    So technically this could fall under a “curse of a god,” but it’s less of a curse and more intentional. This also involves very arbitrary ES lore and is not proven:

    Beings in the elder scrolls have a separate secret/true name called their “nymic.” Some believe by changing one’s nymic or true self, they can alter their being and race. For example it’s believed the villain of TES VI Oblivion, Mankar Camoran, was once a bosmer (judging by his name and his Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes.) However he was once “razor fed” which had him abandon his name and family, and thus possibly changed him into a Altmer (as he appears in Oblivion game.) Razor fed by fan theory has led people to the artifact Mehrunes Razor dagger.

    Therefore, some believe the Mehrunes Razor artifact is able to alter someone’s race.

    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Nymic
    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Mythic_Dawn_Commentaries

    TBH, I'd buy that since the Skeleton Key can unlock not just physical objects but also metaphorical concepts like hidden potential or possibilities...
  • This_0ne
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    Sjestenka wrote: »
    elephant in the room here, fellas. chimer to dunmer, entire bloody people \o/ make a daedra prince angry enough, and they'll change you into anything

    usually if you make someone angry it turns you into the wrong person you want to be :D
  • Marginis
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    For my two cents, in previous TES games there were characters that were mixed race, and were obviously one race in the game, and these examples could probably be instructive in how to treat race changes in ESO.

    In previous TES games there were mixed race NPCs that were obviously only one race in game, and their mixed race attributes were shown in other ways, like dialogue. This was probably to save from having to develop whole new character race for a single NPC.

    Anyway, one could establish their character as mixed race, and just hand-wave the physical appearance change away as how the game is portraying their character, rather than what the character actually is.

    Just an interesting option to put out there.
    @Marginis on PC, Senpai Fluffy on Xbox, Founder of Magicka. Also known as Kha'jiri, The Night Mother, Ma'iq, Jane Shepard, Damia, Kintyra, Zoor Do Kest, You, and a few others.
  • Sjestenka
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    ^to add to Marginis' comment, yeah, i did that race change thing myself. Nola was a Breton rp-wise, and folks i played with remembered her as such, buuut i had that free race change token and well, made her 'cuter', and Cyrod. Her moms is Breton, her pops is Imperial, so why the heck not. Yes Nola have read 'Racial phylogeny' so she treats herself as Breton
  • Cheveyo
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    In a world where magic is prevalent, the only thing stopping certain magicks is the will to figure them out.

    So in a world like ESO, I have no issue with characters changing race or gender. Magick exists. Magick to change yourself COULD exist.

    IMO, get creative.

    For example, if someone were to switch race, I highly doubt they'd be announcing to the world that it happened. You might tell your closest friends, but only those you truly trust. Nobody else needs to know. To the rest of the world, you are who you are, not who you used to be.


    So you can be born a Nord, but become a High Elf through some sorcery. To the world you're a high elf, nobody needs to know you were Nord.

    Also, don't forget there are huge bigots in the ES Lore. They might not take kindly to some other race becoming one of them. So keeping quiet would be for your own safety.
    Edited by Cheveyo on April 17, 2022 2:15PM
  • HappyTheCamper
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    So technically this could fall under a “curse of a god,” but it’s less of a curse and more intentional. This also involves very arbitrary ES lore and is not proven:

    Beings in the elder scrolls have a separate secret/true name called their “nymic.” Some believe by changing one’s nymic or true self, they can alter their being and race. For example it’s believed the villain of TES VI Oblivion, Mankar Camoran, was once a bosmer (judging by his name and his Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes.) However he was once “razor fed” which had him abandon his name and family, and thus possibly changed him into a Altmer (as he appears in Oblivion game.) Razor fed by fan theory has led people to the artifact Mehrunes Razor dagger.

    Therefore, some believe the Mehrunes Razor artifact is able to alter someone’s race.

    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Nymic
    https://en.m.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Mythic_Dawn_Commentaries

    TBH, I'd buy that since the Skeleton Key can unlock not just physical objects but also metaphorical concepts like hidden potential or possibilities...

    Yea just like that! The ability to cut (Razor) or unlock (Skeleton key) “anything.” Always cool when these artifacts have hidden abilities beyond game function.
  • Malyore
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    SASChris wrote: »
    F. Everyone can learn every skill in TES-games (or at least in the later ones, I never got to play Arena or Daggerfall), and there were no specific class skills as there are here. Again, a gameplay thing.

    (I know this is not related to the original question, but just to give an answer to the quote, Arena definitely had a class system that limited playstyle. I can't remember much on Daggerfall, that game was a mess. But in tes1 certain classes could not use some types of weapons or armor. Some couldn't wear heavy armor, some couldn't use giant swords, and some simply didn't have the Magicka reserves to cast high end spells.)

    As for the race changes, I love the idea of the skeleton key being able to do so. Something I wonder about though, relating to all the ideas posted above, what about the person's soul? If they by some means go from a bosmer to a towering giant kahjiit, when they die is their soul or ghost going to be revealed back as a bosmer? And for that matter, could one change physical races by just getting their soul swapped into another body?
  • merpins
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    Some people have mentioned it:

    The Chimer, the original elves, spread out and diversified into the different elven races of Tariel. The High Elves remain the closest to the Chimer. The a number of Chimer were cursed by Azura creating the Dunmer. The snow elves, the Dwemer, the Bretons, and the Bosmer; they all derived from the Chimer as well. There are also cases of individuals being one race only to be forcibly transformed into another indefinitely by spiteful daedra, or through the pranks of Sheogorath.
  • Destai
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    Some people have mentioned it:

    The Chimer, the original elves, spread out and diversified into the different elven races of Tariel. The High Elves remain the closest to the Chimer. The a number of Chimer were cursed by Azura creating the Dunmer. The snow elves, the Dwemer, the Bretons, and the Bosmer; they all derived from the Chimer as well. There are also cases of individuals being one race only to be forcibly transformed into another indefinitely by spiteful daedra, or through the pranks of Sheogorath.

    I believe the Aldmer were the original Elven peoples from which the Altmer and others were derived. The Chimer were a dissident subset of Summerset Elves, Aldmer at that time, who left the Isles through the Velothi Exodus. Dunmer people, who were Chimer before the Battle at Red Mountain, are the result of Azura's curse.

    Found this cool phylogenic breakdown of the Mer.
    Edited by Destai on June 27, 2022 8:11PM
  • Eporem
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    Ember, the companion with no formal magic training tells of sheep magicked to look like people - though I thought in the quest she had turned people to look like sheep and cows instead :neutral:

    fbkgLZM.jpg
    Edited by Eporem on July 4, 2022 12:36AM
  • Faulgor
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    Sure, magic could potentially explain anything. Even literal transubstantiation.

    But IMO, that cheapens the metaphysical aspects of races in TES, as well as the divine feats of Gods.

    If it were just a matter of some Alteration magic, why didn't the followers of Trinimac revert themselves back to Aldmer? Orcs are skilled mages, at least they tought the Reachmen. Or why didn't the Dunmer revert themselves back to Chimer? Almalexia did, and Vivec remains literally half Dunmer half Chimer. If any competent Telvanni wizard might be able to do it, that would really put down the Tribunal's divine power. And why can't Bosmer change back to being Bosmer after the Wild Hunt? Surely some kind mage could heard all the beasts together and turn them back into little Elves?

    Not to mention the time TIber Septim turned himself into an Orc just to prove that they suck.

    Allowing anybody in-world to change race with "normal" magic just opens too many cans of worms IMO. I'd argue that for us players, rules are just different, and in any other case, we are most likely dealing with some type of Illusion magic, or lesser, superficial Alteration.
    Alandrol Sul: He's making another Numidium?!?
    Vivec: Worse, buddy. They're buying it.
  • ZazikelsShadow
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    Race changes can and do happen in the TES universe though not often, I can think of a few examples. On a large scale there's the Chimer transforming into Dunmer, and the Aldmer followers of Trinimac becoming Orcs. Then there's also some individual cases like Jagar Tharn for instance, who could not only trick people into being utterly confused about what race he actually was, but apparently could also shapeshift into completely different people as well. He tricked everyone into thinking he was Uriel Septim for a time, and if you believe the rumors he may have also briefly become the dunmer Drayven Indoril, in order to seduce Queen Barenziah and steal the Staff of Chaos from her. So yeah it's possible. All kinds of weird stuff happens in the lands of Tamriel sometimes.
  • jlmurra2
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    If you imagined that your character has achieved CHIM, then changing their race or anything else they wish is possible. This would mean what ever race they become is what they have always been.

    Edited by jlmurra2 on September 2, 2022 2:19PM
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