The Elder Scrolls Online has three different factions players can join, the Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant and Ebonheart Pact. Each faction is comprised of three different races, with which old Elder Scrolls fans are surely familiar with. Below is a basic summary of all three factions in TESO, including races, their goals and leaders.
Related: Comparison of racial passive bonuses.
Aldmeri Dominion is led by Queen Ayrenn, a decisive and honorable High Elf who took the throne after the death of her father. Once High Elves found out the Imperial City was taken by human supporters of Molag Bal, they reached out to Khajiit and Wood Elves in order to form an alliance to retake the Ruby Throne.
Aldmeri Dominion consists of three races: High Elves (the original settlers of Tamriel who are proficient with magic), Wood Elves who inhabit forests of Valenwood and are supreme hunters, guides, and masters of sneaking and thievery. The third race are Khajiit, a feline race skilled with bladed weapons and elee combat.
The High Elves, or Altmer, arrived in Tamriel thousands of years ago from Old Aldmeris. They see themselves, perhaps justifiably, as the ruling race of Tamriel. They are a highly cultured people, known for their breathtaking architecture and massive libraries of histories and creative works. They tend to be isolationists, largely remaining on Summerset Isle, and only emerge when they perceive a great threat to their homeland. They are powerful mages and warriors, and the de facto leaders of the Aldmeri Dominion.
The Wood Elves, or Bosmer, are mischievous, curious and nimble. Because their homeland of Valenwood is often attacked by the Colovian Imperials, Wood Elves are experts at the art of defense. They are also gifted archers, perhaps the best in all of Tamriel. The capital of the Aldmeri Dominion, Elden Root, lies in the heart of their homeland. It has evolved into a center of political and cultural importance and is of vital strategic importance in the battle to control Tamriel.
The population of the proud feline Khajiit has dwindled in recent years following a devastating outbreak of Knahaten Flu. They owe a great debt to Ayrenn, Queen of the High Elves, for her help in restoring order from the chaos that followed the plague. They have a wry wit and a hedonistic outlook, but they are fearsome on the field of battle. They are the strong arm of the Aldmeri Dominion.
The Daggerfall Covenant faction is led by High King Emeric, a Breton merchant who rules from Wayrest in High Rock. King Emeric united three fearsome races to retake the Ruby Throne.
They include the Bretons who are gifted in magic and diplomacy, the Orcs who are talented armorers and soldiers and Redguards, outstanding warriors with a proficiency for athletics.
The men and women of High Rock were once ruled by High Elf overlords. Some Elven blood still runs in their veins, giving Bretons an innate grasp of magic that distinguishes them from the other human races. Passionate and flamboyant, intelligent and resourceful, the Bretons are renowned and talented craftsmen, shrewd merchants, gallant cavaliers, and inventive wizards. They can also be proud and quarrelsome. Tales of warfare between the kingdoms of High Rock account for much of their history, but most revere the Eight Divines and value prosperity over glory.
The Redguards of Hammerfell are talented and athletic warriors, born to battle. A desert people, their ancestors migrated to Tamriel from the lost continent of Yokuda. Their culture is based on preserving ancient traditions and defying their harsh environment. They prize honor and dignity above all else, combining a deep reverence for the divine with a suspicion of all things magical. Their capital is the merchant port of Sentinel, but their roots are deep in the sands of the Alik’r Desert. In their youth, Redguards endure a rite of passage in the desolate wastes of Alik’r as a test of endurance and discipline. Only the strongest survive.
Though other races often regard the Orcs as barbarians and even beasts, these noble warriors have an ancient culture forged from endless warfare in their harsh mountain homelands. Orcs live under a simple code of honor by which the strong survive and the strongest rule. As the greatest smiths in Tamriel, their weapons and armor are prized by warriors everywhere. During the reign of the Second Empire, when their kingdom of Orsinium was finally granted provincial status, its restoration helped solidify their devotion to the new Daggerfall Covenant.
Ebonheart Pact is led by Jorunn The Skald-King, but he does not rule absolutely as his decisions need to be ratified by all three races in forming the alliance. An unlikely alliance between the races happened after the Akaviri invasion in order to preserve their independent homelands.
Races in Ebonheart Pact include Nords, fierce warriors and expert weapon masters, the Dark Elves who are proficient at magic, and Argonians, the best guerilla warriors in all of Tamriel.
The Nords once conquered most of Tamriel, and as a result, feel a certain entitlement to rule. They broke the power of the Ayleids, nearly drove the High Elves out of High Rock, and conquered much of Resdayn, the precursor to Morrowind. The Nords are excellent with arms. They are quick to anger, boisterous, and strong. They are natural-born warriors who fight with an ecstatic ferocity that terrifies their enemies
The Dark Elf homeland of Morrowind has been invaded many times by the Akaviri and the Nords. This history of conflict has transformed the Dunmer into hardened warriors. They also have a natural affinity for magic and great intellect, making them skillful sorcerers.
Thousands of years ago Dark Elves enslaved Argonians making their alliance an unlikely one.
The Argonians are possessed of a cool intellect, and are well-versed in the magical arts, stealth, and the use of blades. They are also guerilla warfare experts, long accustomed to defending their borders from invaders. They often serve as the scouts and skirmishers for the forces of the Pact.
Racial Passive Skills
Now that you know the background story of each race, you should compare their racial bonuses. Not every race is best suited for a particular play style, so if you’re in a dilemma our guide should help you pick the right one.