Elder Scrolls Online Race Preview: The Redguards

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The Redguards are dark-skinned, athletic people who are hardy and agile. They have an affinity for weapons and are hailed as the most naturally talented warriors in Tamriel. Their strong, fighting spirit makes them more suited to scouting and skirmishing than regular soldiery.

[ Homeland ]

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Hammerfell is a land of dry, desert wastes dominated by the vast Alik’r Desert. As a result, it was once known by the ancient Nedic peoples as “Deathland.” Redguard settlements are often situated at the edges of the province and are renowned as ports and trade hubs. The wind and sands of the desert are believed to possess a strange kind of magic, and at dawn a bizarre, red mist rises from the ground only to vanish before noon.

The Alik’r Desert hides many ancient, Dwemer ruins beneath their sands, rumoured to be once inhabited by the Dwemer Rourken Clan from Resdayn, which is known in modern times as Morrowind. Clan Rourken refused to make peace with the Chimer during the Dwemer-Chimer alliance created to drive out the Nords, and went into self-imposed exile. The Dwemer chieftain then took his mighty warhammer Volendrung and threw it, declaring that he would lead his people to wherever it fell. And so the land became known as Volenfell. Later, when the Redguards arrived and discovered the Dwemer ruins with their depictions of Volendrung being thrown, they translated the name to Hammerfell.

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The capital of Hammerfell is the exotic merchant city of Sentinel and is famous for its cooking, crafting and theatre. It is a popular tourist destination, especially for the nobles of Daggerfall and Wayrest. Its main street runs all the way from the docks to the badlands gates, and is basically a gigantic marketplace, filled with traders offering their wares. Protected by the knights of the Order of the Candle, Sentinel was once a base for the Redguards in their wars against the Bretons and has since expanded and grown to become one of the most powerful cities in the Illiac Bay Region.

[ Culture ]

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An important part of Redguard culture is the division of their society into two separate factions: The Crowns and the Forebears. The Crowns are descended from ancient Yokudan kings and have a great respect for their traditions although they view others in contempt. As a result they have a particular dislike for foreigners and are often located in remote and isolated regions. Since the death of the last High King, the Crowns’ power is fading. In opposition, the Forebears are descended from the Ra Gada Warrior classes which originally conquered Hammerfell. This exposed them to many of the ancient Nedic peoples and their traditions and ideals, and the Ra Gada were influenced by them. Therefore, they are more accepting of new traditions and cultures, unlike the Crowns, who stick rigidly to their old ways. Much of the Forebears’ architecture, names, dress styles and even gods are influenced by the Imperials and Bretons, and the Forebears themselves are mostly based in the coastal cities.

The Redguards live in a desolate land in which others would soon perish. Their ability to survive the harsh, desert wastes can be attributed to their knowledge of seafaring, agriculture, warfare and astronomy. Redguards have a highly military society, and most have knowledge of the basics of weapons and combat, but only their rulers are expected to learn about strategy, tactics and unit formations. Redguard armies, which consist of various knightly orders, are extremely demanding, and accept only the strongest, fastest and most intelligent into their ranks. The many Dwemer ruins that decorate Hammerfell serve as training grounds for young Redguards seeking to enter the military.

[ History ]

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Unlike the Nords and other human races, the Redguards did not originate in Atmora. Instead, their race began in Yokuda, a continent to the west of Tamriel which was sunk due to mysterious reasons. Possible causes include natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions but also the revenge of a group of Yokudans called the Ansei, the greatest warriors of a group commonly known as the Sword-singers. Whatever the truth, in the First Era 808, Yokuda was sunk and the survivors fled east across the sea. They soon landed in what would later be called Hammerfell and the “warrior wave” or “Ra Gada” in the Yoku language, slaughtered all Nedic tribes, Mer and beastfolk alike who stood against them. The Ra Gada had soon established a foothold on the western coast of Tamriel, and this caused conflict with the Nordic raiders who had been preying on the region. After many battles, the warrior wave had soon paved the way for the Yokudan High King and royalty to set up safely in Hammerfell. They became known as the Redguards, a phonetic corruption of Ra Gada, scribing their place upon history in the blood of slain orcs. The Redguards’ invasion of Tamriel would establish the future divide in their culture: the nobility would become the Crowns and the soldiers becoming the Forebears.

But the Redguards did bring something of value to Tamriel: the traditions of honourable battle. In the year 947 the famous Blademaster Gaiden Shinji of the Order of the Diagna began work on the Arena in the Imperial City, and this would later become one of the most popular and celebrated parts of Imperial culture. Unfortunately, he would never see its completion.

At first, the Redguards had viewed their Breton neighbours with disdain, battling with them for territory and refusing to even trade with them. But eventually the Bretons would “prove their worth” in the Siege of Orsinium in 950. The new orc capital was seen as a threat to the neighbouring kingdoms, and when a letter was sent from the Bretons to Gaiden Shinji, he agreed to a temporary alliance in order to take the fight to the Redguards’ traditional foes. Although the alliance was successful after a thirty year siege, the war took the lives of many Redguards, including that of Gaiden Shinji. The alliance soon disintegrated, although trade between High Rock and Hammerfell remained untouched.

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In the Second Era, the Daedric Prince Molag Bal began to draw Nirn into his own Oblivion plane of Cold Harbour. This forced the creation of another alliance between the Redguards and Bretons in the form of the Daggerfall Covenant, created by King Emeric. To the chagrin of many Redguards, the orcs were enlisted as well, though the only way they could be made to assist was through a war treaty. When the crisis was over, both the Orcs and Bretons would return to their places as the Redguards’ traditional enemies and territorial neighbours, respectively.

When Tiber Septim’s attention turned to Hammerfell during his conquest of Tamriel, the snobbish Crowns naturally resisted all attempts at assimilation. However, after the death of High King Thassad II, the province was plunged into civil war between the Crowns and the Forebears. In the Battle of Hunding Bay in the year 864, the Crowns, under the leadership of Prince A’tor, son of the deceased high king, repeatedly bested the Forebears from his fortress at Stros M’Kai. The Forebears, knowing they could never find victory, made a pact with Tiber Septim in order to defeat their old-fashioned adversaries. The Crowns were promptly smashed by Imperial forces, and Prince A’tor was slain. Hammerfell was then incorporated into the Empire.

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Soon after Tiber Septim’s victory over Hammerfell, the Stros M’Kai Uprising occurred. Imperial rule was overthrown by a group of revolutionary pirates led by the Redguard mercenary Cyrus. The provisional governor Lord Admiral Amiel Richton, who had led the Imperial forces to victory over the Crowns, was slain by Cyrus, who wielded a sword enchanted with the soul of Crown Prince A’tor. Cyrus’ sister Iszara, who was also Prince A’tor’s lover, was made governess of Stros M’Kai. Tiber Septim was then forced to sign a peace treaty, with terms favouring Hammerfell.

The Third Era heralded more blood spilt between the Redguards and the Bretons. The War of Betony took place in 402, and was a conflict fought over the isle of Betony. Although it was loosely controlled by Sentinel, it was the perfect base for pirates and is in close proximity to Daggerfall. Seeking aid from the Breton city rather than Sentinel itself, Lord Mogref sparked off a war that resulted in the death of both King Lysandus of Daggerfall and King Camaron of Sentinel. With Lysandus’ son Gothryd crowned on the battlefield and leading his forces to victory over the Redguards, Sentinel surrendered and control of Betony passed to Daggerfall.

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The Fourth Era has brought much change and war to Hammerfell. When the Great War ended in 175 with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, large swathes of southern Hammerfell were granted to the Aldmeri Dominion. While the Emperor Titus Mede II was willing to come to any terms in order to end the bloodshed, naturally the Redguards rejected the treaty and broke away from the Empire. For the next five years they would be engaged in constant warfare against the Aldmeri Dominion. Finally, after fighting to a stalemate, a treaty was signed and the Dominion forces withdrew from Hammerfell, leaving the home of the Redguards a free and independent nation.

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The Redguards are a strong-willed and self-sufficient people, skilled with all manner of weapons and capable of great feats of both martial prowess and survival. Their freedom of spirit that leads them to be wandering heroes and explorers makes them a respectable choice amongst any group of adventurers.

[ Further Reading ]

The Argonians

The Khajiit

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Andy Lex Bain is a 31 year old writer who resides in Tasmania. He enjoys writing, reading, writing video game reviews, gaming, writing fiendish campaigns for his roleplaying club "The Blades of Valour", cosplaying, bushwalking and watching movies, DVDs and anime. He aspires to be a full-time published author and basically spends his days slaving away at his computer, ShadowLord.

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Andy 'Aef' Bain
Wandering in Skyrim