Dunmer (dark elf) thief from ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ shows a series evolving

If you’ve been following The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at all, you may have noticed a whole lotta Nords running around the land of Skyrim. This, of course, makes sense, given that Skyrim is, like, the homeland of the Nords. But it raised many questions in fans’ minds as to whether or not we would be forced to play a Nord. Don’t get me wrong, I like my burly Nord warrior as much as the next, but a key component to the Elder Scrolls has always been the ability to choose your character from the varied races of Tamriel.

darkelf 570x320 Dunmer (dark elf) thief from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim shows a series evolving

If you can tear your eyes away from the gorgeous sky and background, the elf’s not so bad either.

Bethesda thus hosted a brilliant community outreach program, asking fans to help design the first Dunmer (dark elf) character for the game. The results are fabulous, and truly a testament to the new engine on which Skyrim will appear, but it also shows the evolution of the dark elf race has taken through the course of the series. In fact, of all the races, I think it’s safe to argue that the dark elves have seen the most change — the Argonians (my personal favorite class) have changed very little, merely received sharper, finer tuning from the gift of improved graphics.

dunmer.df  Dunmer (dark elf) thief from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim shows a series evolving

Daggerfall-era dark elf

The Skyrim Dunmer thief actually looks as though it harkens back to the Daggerfall-era dark elves which were, unarguably, my favorite of the series. They had a bit of substance to them while still looking elven and non-human. (Plus, look at those pixels!) In Morrowind, the Dunmer were heavily featured since, much as Skyrim is the home of the Nords, Morrowind was the home of the Dunmer. They featured a far more severe, gaunt character design, with their red eyes far more pronounced. The nadir of the poor Dunmer race was easily Oblivion. The red eyes were far too pronounced, and their features were bloated-looking and, well, not very dark elf-y. It looks as though we are venturing close to realism.

Also, of note, was that the Dunmer have always had an air of superiority to them, in regards to other races, but they seemed more cold and aloof in Morrowind, where as in Oblivion I always felt as though they were aristocratic snots. But then, I’m judgmental of my in-game peers… it’ll be interesting to see if this new character design harkens back to their aloof, cold nature.

gldsnt dunmer 300x255 Dunmer (dark elf) thief from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim shows a series evolving

Morrowind-era Dunmer were gaunt and nearly vicious looking.

It is interesting to note that Bethesda chose to show a dark elf thief as opposed to, say, an assassin or battlemage. While they are one of the more well-balanced races of the Elder Scrolls universe, and can quite easily fulfill any class the player chooses, their attributes do tend to favor them towards fast melee fighters, with some magic thrown in for good measure.  The Dunmer were one of the better classes to play in Oblivion (despite their not-so-attractive appearance) because of their natural fire resistance.

We should see a lot of the Dunmer in Skyrim, seeing as the provinces border one another to the West. In fact, much as Bloodmoon brought a bit of Skyrim into Morrowind, I would imagine that we may very well see a DLC involving the Dunmer, or even venture back into Morrowind. One of the interesting things about Morrowind as a game was that we, as players, really only got to explore the island of Vvardenfell, and left the majority of the continent unexplored.

23853 1 1239938773 300x290 Dunmer (dark elf) thief from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim shows a series evolving

Let us not speak of the Oblivion-era dark elves.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released November, 11, 2011 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. As Bethesda continues to tease us with screens and races, I still have one burning question that remains unanswered: will my poor Argonian finally get to wear boots

About Jen Bosier

Jen lives with her husband, daughter and super-villain cats. If she's not reading comics or engrossed in a WH40k novel, she's probably telling you which horror games you should be playing. She's a recovering member of the PC Master Race, and a reluctant Xbox fangirl. You can also find her on the Furious Fourcast.


  1. WOW…looks amazing!!! I usually play an Argonian, cant wait to see their graphic overhaul!

  2. jacob Needham says:

    Great article, although; personally i tend to kill most Dark elves on sight… (I usually play Argonian)
    however, i’m not sure what DLC would look like considering Morrowind’s downfall- Vaardenfell no longer exists and other parts have been destroyed; no doubt it’ll be good practice for Fallout 4 :)

  3. You say something about the Argonians’ new look. Are there screenshots or even footage ? Do you know something ? Speak ! *nerdrage*

  4. Bethesda didn’t choose the class: they had two polls running, one to choose the race and one for the class.

  5. Impressive, with a better haircut he wouldn’t look as ugly. But the ugliness is in a good way because dunmer never have been too pretty. Besides with all the customization and mods I’m getting so excited to think of how these will end up looking based on the impressive detail I’m seeing in the screens of the races so far!

  6. yah i cannot waituntil tht stuff comes out man it looks sick lol im sually an orc, argoinian, or a nord or a imperial cnt wait november come already lol!!!

  7. Emeraldcity Indie20 says:

    I’ve alway played a dark elf and from what I can tell from the new disign, I’m going to love this fucking game. :)

  8. Exposernine says:

    I have a question I can’t seem to find the answer to online. Are the achievements for skyrim going to the acceptable for the pause menu? If it’s a secret or something that’s fine. I was just wondering because it makes achievement hunting much easier. Thanks.

  9. Exposernine says:

    I meant accessible from the pause menu. I hate autocorrect.

  10. I think you confused class with race. other than that great job. I can’t wait to make another Redgarud sword master

  11. Hm. You claim the dark elves have the most “evolution” but.. really, the Argonian’s and Kaji..Ka.. Uhhm. Kitties. Yes. They have more graphical change than anything. ” I still have one burning question that remains unanswered: will my poor Argonian finally get to wear boots” From Morrowind to Oblivion they ended up being able to wear boots and full-face helmets.

  12. What is a redgarud? : |

  13. The Dunmer thief was chosen by a series of polls of the facebook fans. And as of the first ES novel most of Morrowind was destroyed, so it’s unlikely we’d get to go back there. Someone needs to learn a little Lore…

  14. 70 days!

  15. Dark-elves were always fun to play for me. My first Elderscrolls character ever was on Morrowind. He was a Dark-elf rogue named saber. Played the hell out of him. I noticed in the About Author bit that you’re a 360-convert yet you want to find a good horror game this gen. You’re looking on the wrong system, you need to look on the PC for that, it’s been out for a while now. It’s called Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

  16. I never liked the look of Dark Elves in previous games which put me off playing them, accept once in Daggerfall, but i may change my mind for Skyrim.

  17. I doubt we’re going back to Vvardenfell, it was destroyed when, in the absence of Vivec, the previously suspended Ministry of Justice impacted the temple district of the city of Vivec causing a seismic reaction and Red Mountain to explode, covering all of Vvardenfell and presumably destroying a lot of it in the process. Although I guess the mainland would be alright still, and it hasn’t been explored yet… Except… *shiver* Mournhold.

  18. vvardenfell was destroyed. but the rest of morrowind was taken over by the argonians. I am curious to see if a dunmer colony on skyrims east border exists.

  19. I really wish they would go back to the morrwind argonian and khajiit.  Just create boots that will fit their digitigraded feet!  I don’t want the argonians and khajiit to be more human, but LESS human.  It’s what made them fun and individualized.

  20. Downgroundss says:

     Why does this author keep calling the Dunmer, Argonians and other races classes? In all honestly the Argonians have changed A LOT if you consider they’re actually unique in Skyrim, again, like in Morrowind. In Oblivion every race used the same model and moved the same way.

  21. Argonians are a race, not a class. Trololololol

  22. spectorejector says:

    idk about you guys but I want some of that skyrum

  23. I’d actually like to see some of Bruma and the Rest of Cyrodiil in a expansion just to know what Oblivion was really missing…
    That or Highrock/Hammerfell.

  24. Jim Gallagher says:

    Dunmer are nearly extinct. Vvardenfell was completely destroyed and the continental part of Morrowind was conquered by the Argonians of Black Marsh during the Oblivion crysis.

    It is expected to be very few Dunmer, in comparison with all the other races. 

    Know your lore, Jen Bosier!

    • Jen Bosier says:


      Thanks for the response. I tried to keep the article as spoiler-free as possible for those who have not played the other entries in the series. Believe it or not, VGW’s Brian Shea has not yet played “Oblivion,” and VGW’s Dan Wise just recently finished “Morrowind.” Therefore, I tried to skirt around any revealing details, to be fair to the non-lorejunkies. :)

    • I know one thing, I still remain, can’t become extinct without me dying.

    • Scott Ogden says:

      But there were also all the dunmer refugees who made their way into the neighboring province (skyrim) and settked in winterhold (http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Winterhold). So, actually, I expect to see a lot of dunmer in the eastern part of the province. Also, Jen, how is it a spoiler if it’s merely background story that doesn’t have to do with the events in either “morrowind” or “oblivion”? I feel like it’s just fluff that hardcore TES fans can sink their teeth into. like cotton candy.

  25. mmmmmmmm skyrum

  26. If this guy actually put in enough effort and researched what he blogs about, he’d know the dark elf rogue picture was the winning result from the facebook poll. 

  27. Killerbs420 says:

    The Dunmer from Daggerfall looks like she is ready to go play golf.

  28. The Dunmer are my favourite race to play. I don’t actually have a problem with the way they looked in Oblivion – not sure what the expectations around them are in reference to that. I find them sort of Gothically elegant.

    I’m very much looking forward to Skyrim

  29. kennymuthafuckinwilson says:

    38 days now!!!!!!!

  30. Nekrolama says:

    Ok let me set the record straight. Oblivion style dark elves are the only visually acceptable version. the new skyrim version looks like someones ball sack was used for the face. Also, Oblivion was the last grest TES game. PERIOD!

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