The Nords are a fantasy race of humans from the Elder Scrolls video game series. They are natives of the northern province of Skyrim, and are known for their aggressiveness and physical strength and hardiness, qualities which make them ideal warriors. They are also highly resistant to the elements of frost and lightning.
Nords, as their name implies, come from the north. As a people, they originated in the northern-most place in the known world, a continent known as Atmora. Little is known of the geography and history of Atmora, as at the time of the migration from there, humanity did not possess a written language. What little is runic writing, as well as old Elvish records which are not open to Imperial scholars, but which are known to refer to the continent as 'Aldmora', meaning "Elder Wood". It is likely Atmora is a human corruption of this word. In a historical sense, the humans who live there are called "Nedes", as are those humans living in Tamriel before King Harald, thirteenth of the Ysgramor line, seceded from Atmoran rulership, after which they are historically annotated as Cyro-Nordics, to illustrate that the Cyrodiil people had not yet gone separate from the original trunk of human population.
Even in ancient times, Atmora must have been extremely cold, at least as much so as modern day Skyrim, because the men who lived there are very well suited to live in cold climates. It is said that during the time of the migration, a protracted and bloody civil war had gripped Atmora, and, as the story goes, a man named Ysgramor rallied those people from all sides who desired to live in peace, and set sail to the south, eventually arriving in Skyrim; the extreme northern tip of the continent of Tamriel, at a place known as Hsaarik Head. They named the new land “Mereth” in tribute to the many Elves who lived in the forests there (Elves having arrived in Tamriel several millennia prior). As it goes, Elves and men lived in relative peace and prosperity for a great deal of time, however, the Elves, upon observing the staggering birthrate of the human populace, quickly realized that men would overtake the wild places and become the first major threat to Elvish civilization in the known world. Of course, this would not have happened for many centuries, and it would have occurred unnoticeably slowly from the human point of view; however, in the Elvish mind, this would be the equivalent of the statement, “The day after tomorrow, we will be overtaken.”
Soon thereafter, the Aldmer launched a series of pogroms against the settlements of humanity, and in what was to become known as the Night of Tears, razed the capital city of Saarthal to the ground, killing the defenders and everyone unable to flee, well over a thousand people. In addition to the slaughter and destruction, many Nedes were enslaved, some being the progenitors of the Bretons and others fleeing in exile. The Nedic men were scattered to the coast and systematically hunted down in an act of unmitigated cleansing, and only Ysgramor and his two sons survived, fleeing in the last available longship while the port they launched from was burned. Arriving in Atmora, and observing the tumultuous peace which had developed, they quickly propagated their tale of a vicious and deceitful alien race, the Elves, bent on scouring men from the face of the world. Rallying the various nations to their cause, they conscripted an army composed of the heroes of the war, which history would know as the “Five Hundred Companions”. Upon their return to Tamriel, they expediently slaughtered the Elves living there, known as the Falmer, and laid the foundations for the ascendancy of Men to the power they now hold. This series of events sparked a long fuming hatred between the two species leading to millennial wars and prejudice which exists, by degree, even contemporarily.
Today, Nordic society still exists largely as it always has, and may varyingly be described as a peasant state. Contrary to the habits of most other species, including those of other races of men, most Nords live on the land in small towns, villages and hamlets, while only a minority of the population exist in large scale cities. It is in this socio-political climate that they thrive, with most of them either working the land as farmers or foresters, or in manufacturing as smithies and woodworkers. Unlike most of the other cultured peoples of the world, Nords place little or no emphasis on social services and public relations, with colleges and government offices being few and far between. Instead of institutionalizing education and social training into schools, academies and colleges as do most Elves and men, Nordic culture is based largely on heredity.
Families pass on traditions and knowledge between generations, meaning that most Nords enter into trades and family businesses. This helps to perpetuate the largely self-sufficient nature of the Skyrim economy, where families provide for their own needs, and whatever they cannot produce, is acquired by trade with other members of a community. Metal and wooden tools are purchased with a commodity of equal value, produced using the tools acquired by the trade. Farmers buy tools and thusly indebt themselves to the tradesmen who supply these, and the debt is paid with a portion of the crop yield each harvest. Large cities are generally located on land non-conducive to crop growth or forestry (at least, not enough to support a settlement of such a size, anyway), and they are chiefly trading hubs, which buy such goods as pelts, wooden and metal implements as well as foodstuffs which are produced elsewhere, and sell these products to other travelers who in turn possess other goods. Because of the harsh Skyrim climate, travelers often require frequent re-supply stops in cities like these, and this is how they generate revenue. Nordic handicraft is highly esteemed for its practicality: although it may not be of the finest quality, it will always work as advertised and it will seldom wear down beyond the point at which the owner cannot repair it himself.
Most Nords have a basic knowledge of armed and unarmed combat, as throughout the long Nordic history of warfare, the ability to defend ones self has become a necessity in most families. Fighting ability is passed on from parent to child, and there is usually a family coat of armor and basic family weapons such as an axe or a shortsword which are passed along as well. Of all the crafts in the Empire, Nords excel above all others at forestry and woodworking, as well as skinning and leatherworking to a degree. Nordic woodcrafts are of the highest quality in all the regions of Tamriel, and Nordic animal pelts and even thick fur armors are among the finest in protection against both weapons and the cold. A strong and hardy, as well as independent people, the Nords are renowned for their innate martial talents. Although not possessing a professional provincial army or navy, there exist numerous Nordic folk militias, which band together and organize around most major cultural centers and trading hubs: large cities often have their own military forces for defense and offence, and often groups of fifteen or twenty small villages or towns will volunteer young men to work together for mutual protection. Furthermore, the Skyrim branch of the Imperial Legion is one of the best in the world, taking the Nordic qualities of strength and endurance and infusing them with great discipline and organization. When utilizing Imperially prescribed tactics and formations, Nordic soldiers are some of the most dangerous adversaries in any province.
Nordic seamanship is legendary, as is their daring and their grandiose vision of the possible. The Nedic peoples of Atmora (racially, the very same people as modern day Nords) were the first humans ever to develop cartography and astronomy. They were the first men to catalogue the stars and recognize constellate patterns, and the first to map the seas as well as the land, allowing for the first human navigation between continents. It was also Ysgramor, the first Man to set foot in Tamriel, who developed the first primitive human writing in order to record and catalogue what he found there. As a people, they have an intense passion for the unknown and no one understands better than they the romantic lure of something more. They are avid dreamers and visionaries, with a deep-seated curiosity towards the theoretical and the abstract; a contrast with the mercantile nature of the very concrete, ‘here-and-now’ Imperials. The only other men to share the profound Nordic awareness of the intangible are the Bretons, whose interest is less of a passion and more of an eccentric curiosity, inherited from the Elvish half of their heritage. The Nords are celebrated explorers, rivaling even the Elves in the number of distant and foreign lands they have set foot on. More astonishingly, while Elves sail in massive formations of titanic galleys, manned by hundreds of Mer each, Nordic expeditionary forces often comprise no more than a few small vessels like longships, sometimes manned by as little as fifteen men per ship. Usually these craft are man powered, with the crew rowing while a captain/navigator orders them. In larger Nordic vessels, usually warships and small galleys, there is a combination of man power and wind power, with a sail being unfurled to travel through the deep ocean, and the oars being a method of short range propulsion, as well as for swift, inter-vessel maneuvering. These vessels, often part of Nordic battle-fleets, are usually manned by a crew of approximately fifty, each man a soldier as well as a sailor. Only Redguard destroyers are capable of contending with Nordic warships in the open sea.
Racially, Nords are of average human intellect, according to standard Mages' Guild tests of intelligence. However, many feel they might be less intelligent due to their brutish nature and the low amount of Nordic magic users. By extension, Nords are definitely more intelligent than either Khajiit or Argonians. Although there are many obvious disparities in intellect between Elves and men, as well as men and the various so-called beast races, there is controversy amongst scholars at the Guild as to the exact nature of intelligence, and whether or not any single race can be said to be truly more intelligent, as they all excel in certain testable areas, while coming short in others.
As a people, they are far above average height, common at well over six feet, on the whole being shorter only than Orsimer and Altmer. Furthermore, they are also one of the strongest mortal races, generally weighing in over 200 pounds, with broad barrel chests and unusually great muscle mass and bone density. However, due to their massive build, they are one of the least agile mortal races, just more so than Orcs. Furthermore, due to the frigid nature of their climate, they often pack on a significant amount of body fat; however, when understood in the context of their overall mass, this fat content is fairly minimal. They are extremely resistant to frost because of this, and Nords are known to be able to survive for a rather unusual length of time in freezing water, such as can be found frequently in Skyrim and the northerly Sea of Ghosts. They have exceptionally pale skin, often with a significant pink coloring, sometimes bordering on hypomelanism. This is due largely to the scarcity of direct sunlight in their native lands. They also have extremely long, thick hair, usually colored either blonde or red, and occasionally brown, depending on if they have any Cyrodiil parentage. Their faces are distinctly noticeable for the “long” shape of the skull, with much defined cheekbones and jaw, and with brows that usually line up more or less evenly with the chin.
Their voices are specifically recognizable as some of the deepest, loudest voices amongst humans, and this is said to be tied to the particularly great capacity of their lungs, necessitated by the high altitudes at which most Nords live. Nords are very proud of their voices, to the point that they have been incorporated into the mythology of Nordic religion. The Throat of the World in northern Skyrim was said to be the place where the sky breathed life into the world, creating the Nords.. Voices are strongly associated with the raging subarctic winds of Skyrim, and there is even a specifically Nordic form of magic called Thu’um which relies on the Greybeards (the Nordic term for a wizard) capacity to "shout" spells into existence.
Complex Nordic religious or magical rites often consist of much less visual symbolism (i.e. depictions, representative imagery), but are often composed of more vocal ritualism (i.e. chants, proverbs, spoken language prayers and referential phonetics, see Aum and Glossolalia). Nordic vocalists are always much in demand in the Imperial City for both Temple choirs as well as highbrow operas, because of the spectacularly deep range of their voices, to which no other Mannish or Elvish voice can accede.
- The Nords also practice a specific form of tattooing called the Woad after the name of the dye used, which they believe bestows upon them the magical protection of nature and their ancestors; two common facial tattoos are the bear's claws, which bestows the strength of a bear and the scar across the eye, which bestows the spirit of the warrior.
- When designing the Nordic people and culture, Bethesda Softworks took inspiration from a combination of real-world historical sources, including most prominently the Scandinavian kingdoms, northern (especially Baltic) Russia, the Jutland peninsula, and northern Scotland. In terms of literature, a page may have been taken from Tolkien in the form of the Dúnedain, the last descendants of an ancient race of mythical High Men.