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The Fantasy Art of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Character Races
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a first-person perspective fantasy computer role-playing game set in a vast 3D world with an open-ended storyline that allows the player the freedom to pursue the main quest, side quests, or simply explore the world. The game is set in a different geographic location from the previous in the series (Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind) and in general the architecture and wildlife is more medieval and real-world. The fantasy game art is vastly improved, however, and at the time of its release wowed the world with its realism and attention to physics in its interactivity.
This Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion fantasy game art page summarizes the playable character races and has links to galleries of face and hair choices during character generation.
Hairstyles are fixed and the choices vary by race, with some that are race-specific. Facial features can be molded with a multitude of variables, resulting in bigger/smaller longer/shorter narrower/wider features on a character's face and a broad range of colours for almost every part of the face. Overall, humans come across as rather broad-faced and flat-nosed.
We discuss Oblivion character generation and related mods in more detail here.
As a result of providing so much control, it is all too easy to end up with a character that looks odd. The character generation system does have a "random face" feature that leaves the hair and eyes to the player.
The range of changes in random face generation is very conservative, no doubt to preserve an overall look for a race. This is especially visible in the human cultures (Bretons, Imperials, Nords, and Redguards), so that each race can be easily identified merely by look. This makes a good jumping-off point for customizing a character as a (theoretically) reasonable-looking face is produced and the various variables, such as age and skin tone, can still be adjusted.
For races such as the lizardine Argonians and the feline Khajiit, the scale/fur colour choices have great potential for very wide variance (e.g., a white lion Khajiit?), but probably out of character for the game world.
Here is basic information on the ten races(Argonian, Breton, Dark Elf, High Elf, Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Orc, Redguard, Wood Elf). The faces pictured are the "default" for each race and can be assumed to be what the "everyman" for the race looks like. Hair and eye style and colour are not part of the default settings. Click on the race name to go to a page with a selection of faces randomly-generated by the Oblivion game engine, and a slideshow of the various hair choices for the race.
Little is known and less is understood about the reptilian denizens of Black Marsh. Years of defending their borders have made the Argonians experts in guerilla warfare, and their natural abilities make them equally at home in water and on land. They are well-suited for the treacherous swamps of their homeland, and have developed natural immunities to the diseases and poisons that have doomed many would-be explorers into the region. Their seemingly expressionless faces belie a calm intelligence, and many Argonians are well-versed in the magical arts. Others rely on stealth or steel to survive, and their natural agility makes them adept at either. They are, in general, a reserved people, slow to trust and hard to know. Yet, they are fiercely loyal, and will fight to the death for those they have named as friends.
Passionate and eccentric, poetic and flamboyant, intelligent and willful, the Bretons feel an inborn, instinctive bond with the mercurial forces of magic and the supernatural. Many great sorcerers have come out of their home province of High Rock, and in addition to their quick and perceptive grasp of spellcraft, enchantment, and alchemy, even the humblest of Bretons can boast a high resistance to destructive and dominating magical energies.
Dark Elves are the dark-skinned Elven peoples of the Eastern Empire. "Dark" is variously understood to mean "dark-skinned," "gloomy," and "ill-favored by fate." The Dunmer and their national character embrace these various connotations with enthusiasm. In the Empire, "Dark Elves" is the common usage, but in their Morrowind homeland, and among their Aldmeri brethren, they call themselves the "Dunmer". The dark-skinned, red-eyed Dark Elves combine powerful intellect with strong and agile physiques, producing superior warriors and sorcerers. On the battlefield, Dark Elves are noted for their skilled and balanced integration of swordsmen, marksmen, and war wizards. In character, they are grim, aloof, and reserved, distrusting and disdainful of other races.
In Imperial speech, the haughty, tall, golden-skinned peoples of Summerset Isle are called "High Elves," but they call themselves the "Altmer," or the "Cultured People." In the Empire, "High" is often understood to mean "tall," "proud," or "snobbish." The High Elves confidently consider themselves, with some justice, as the most civilized culture of Tamriel; the common tongue of the Empire, Tamrielic, is based on Altmer speech and writing, and most of the Empire's arts, crafts, and sciences are derived from High Elven traditions. However, the High Elf's smug self-assurance of his superiority can be hard to bear for those of other races. Deft, intelligent, and strong-willed, High Elves are often gifted in the arcane arts, and High Elves boast that their sublime physical natures make them far more resistant to disease than the "lesser races."
Natives of the civilized, cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil, the Imperials are well-educated and well-spoken. Imperials are also known for the discipline and training of their citizen armies. Though physically less imposing than the other races, the Imperials have proved to be shrewd diplomats and traders, and these traits, along with their remarkable skill and training as light infantry, have enabled them to subdue all the other nations and races, and to have erected the monument to peace and prosperity that comprises the Glorious Empire.
Khajiit hail from the province of Elsweyr and can vary in appearance from nearly Elven to the cathay-raht "jaguar men" to the great Senche-Tiger. The most common breed found in Morrowind, the suthay-raht, is intelligent, quick, and agile. Khajiit of all breeds have a weakness for sweets, especially the drug known as skooma. Many Khajiit disdain weapons in favor of their natural claws. They make excellent thieves due to their natural agility and unmatched acrobatics ability. Many Khajiit are also warriors, although this is less common among the suthay-raht.
The citizens of Skyrim are a tall and fair-haired people, aggressive and fearless in war, industrious and enterprising in trade and exploration. Skilled sailors, Nords can be found in seaports and settlements along all the coasts and rivers of Tamriel. Strong, stubborn, and hardy, Nords are famous for their resistance to cold, even magical frost. Violence is an accepted and comfortable aspect of Nord culture; Nords of all classes are skilled with a variety of weapon and armor styles, and they cheerfully face battle with an ecstatic ferocity that shocks and appalls their enemies.
These sophisticated barbarian beast peoples of the Wrothgarian and Dragontail Mountains are noted for their unshakeable courage in war and their unflinching endurance of hardships. In the past, Orcs have been widely feared and hated by the other nations and races of Tamriel, but they have slowly won acceptance in the Empire, in particular for their distinguished service in the Emperor's Legions. Orcish armorers are prized for their craftsmanship, and Orc warriors in heavy armor are among the finest front-line troops in the Empire. Most Imperial citizens regard Orc society as rough and cruel, but there is much to admire in their fierce tribal loyalties and generous equality of rank and respect among the sexes.
The most naturally talented warriors in Tamriel, the dark-skinned, wiry-haired Redguards of Hammerfell seem born to battle, though their pride and fierce independence of spirit makes them more suitable as scouts or skirmishers, or as free-ranging heroes and adventurers, than as rank-and-file soldiers. In addition to their cultural affinities for many weapon and armor styles, Redguards are also physically blessed with hardy constitutions and quickness of foot.
The Wood Elves are the various barbarian Elven clanfolk of the Western Valenwood forests. In the Empire, they are collectively referred to as "Wood Elves", but "Bosmer," or "the Tree-Sap People," is what they call themselves. "Tree-Sap" suggests the wild vitality and youthful energy of Wood Elves, in contrast with their more dour cousins, the Altmer and Dunmer. Bosmer reject the stiff, formal traditions of Aldmeri high culture, preferring a romantic, simple existence in harmony with the land, its wild beauty and wild creatures. These country cousins of the High Elves and Dark Elves are nimble and quick in body and wit, and because of their curious natures and natural agility, Wood Elves are especially suitable as scouts, agents, and thieves. But most of all, the Wood Elves are known for their skills with bows; there are no finer archers in all of Tamriel.