Racial implications of Skyrim's starting skill bonuses: A fair and balanced analysis. (Spoiler: Argonians are apocalyptic)

Table of Contents

  1. Racial perks
  2. Weapon focus
  3. Standing stones
  4. Divine blessings
  5. Vampires and werewolves
  6. Alternate Start
  7. Feedback
    1. c/ConsumeProduct
      1. Redguards = Arabs in blackface
    2. c/Gaming
      1. negroid ~ Orcs + Argonians
      2. German sperging
    3. c/KotakuinAction2
    4. r/SkyrimRequiem
      1. armorless Redguards!?
      2. roleplaying against stereotype

Skyrim and Requiem are balanced for roleplay, not powergaming. Adding roleplay restrictions enhances the experience, especially after one is comfortable playing on Legendary with (conditional) permadeath. Are you tired of playing the same few metagame strategies repeatedly? How about something completely different?

Racial perks

For a new level of challenge and immersion, assign perks only to skills that receive a racial starting bonus.

More mathematically: use a ratio of 4:2:1 for primary, secondary and tertiary skills. So for your first three perks, two must be primary, one may be secondary, and zero tertiary. Once you have 4 primary perks, you may choose one tertiary perk.

For example, Argonians get +10 to Evasion and Lockpicking, and +5 to Restoration, Alteration, Sneak and PickPocket. Thus Argonians can't place perks in offensive skills. While there are some perks in their racial skills that can be considered offensive, none of their racial skills are overall offensive. This makes the Thief's Guild path imperative. Lack of offensive capability helps explain Argonians' oppressed status in Windhelm. The resulting resentment and poverty motivate theft. Dragons like shinies. Later, when mounting theft causes Dibella to excommunicate, Argonians can convert to vampirism, to focus on Alteration's drain spells. A nocturnal blood-drinking Navy SEAL dino-thief sounds satisfyingly vindictive.

Voila, immersion. Instead of playing each race with the same metagaming strategy, each race is a completely different playstyle and experience.

Masochism and imagination are your only limits. For example, Orcs are conspicuously illiterate, so ignore books. A Nord wouldn't strip his friend's shelves bare just because it wouldn't be reported as a crime. An Altmer wouldn't run minor fetch quests. Bosmer are claustrophobic treehuggers. Etc.

Perhaps you find it offensively stifling to restrict your roleplay by racial archetype. Fine, I don't care. I'm a powergamer who never roleplays anyway. What I really like is finding patterns. I looked at the racial starting bonuses, suspected a pattern similar to that of an ecosystem, and started solving. Evolutionary emergence happens when each set's members are trying to fill a distinct niche to survive over iterations: races, skills, weapons, standing stones, divines, alternative starts. Over time, an interlocking "ecosystem" evolves. I like explicitly defining the vaguely-felt archetypes that result.

So you want to play Gronk the Orc Chef-Shaman? Great. Knowing that the archetypal Orc is 2H HA only enhances that oddball experience, in my opinion.

Weapon focus

Races specialize in different weapon types. Some must rely on unperked (daggers) or (crossbow):

  1. Altmer: enchanted (daggers, crossbow)
  2. Argonian: (crossbow)
  3. Bosmer: poison, light bow
  4. Breton: poison (crossbow), bound weapons
  5. Dunmer: 1h sword
  6. Imperial: 1h axe
  7. Khajiit: poison, warbow, unarmed, daggers
  8. Nord: 2h sword and 1h mace
  9. Orc: 2h hammer and 1h axe
  10. Redguard: 1h sword

Weapon reasoning explained:

  • Light bow for mobility, warbow for sneak attacks.
  • Dunmer and Redguard spellswords need a quick swing-speed for Evasion and use Destruction to penetrate armor.
  • The Imperial paladin can't cast as much Destruction in his heavy armor, but is tanky enough to swing the slower 1h axe.
  • For a pure warrior, axes offer the best balance of penetration and damage, whereas swords aren't serious and maces are too slow.
  • Nord specializes in clearing slow Draugr with a silver 2h, and defeats non-undead armor with a 1h mace. Early stamina is scarce, so Nord uses lightweight Heavy Armor and 2h sword. Later he gets Wuuthrad and goes 2h axes.
  • Orc crushes armored foes with a berserked 2h hammer, and chops everything else with a 1h axe. Stamina is no problem with strong stomach.

Standing stones

  1. Altmer: Mage stays mobile while capturing mana regen overflow
  2. Argonian: Thief for a general boost, then Tower for industrial theft
  3. Bosmer: Shadow to escape in open wilderness
  4. Breton: Apprentice to exploit racial MR, then Ritual for necromancy
  5. Dunmer: Mage for Evasion movement, then Atronach since vampire can drain mana
  6. Imperial: Lover for speech powers
  7. Khajiit: Serpent for slitting VIP throats
  8. Nord: Lady replaces Strong Stomach for stamina regen
  9. Orc: Steed captures stamina regen overflow from Strong Stomach
  10. Redguard: Lord to mitigate robe armor

Divine blessings

  1. Altmer: Julianos for mana
  2. Argonian: Dibella for fencing and speech checks. Reptiles don't pair bond, but they do have prehensile tongues
  3. Bosmer: Kynareth for animals -> Auriel for archery
  4. Breton: Arkay for hunting undead with Resto and Flame Atronach
  5. Dunmer: Stendarr for burning vampires and Daedra
  6. Imperial: Mara for pally heals
  7. Khajiit: Nocturnal for murder
  8. Nord: Talos -> Akatosh for shouts
  9. Orc: Talos to hit even harder
  10. Redguard: Zenithar for smithing to haggling. Fires exotic projectiles. Caravaneer.

Vampires and werewolves


  • Argonian are nocturnal thieves with weak offense and light armor. Night vision helps. Thief's Guild helps pay bribes. Fire is a lore-friendly vulnerability for a regenerating amphibian. Should hide underwater from sunshine. (Sacrilege does this, but for all vampires, so only enable it when playing Argonian.) Stolen wealth purchases ample coffin-equipped lairs. For emergency shelter, lockpick a farmhouse and murder everyone inside.
  • Breton necromantic alignment synergizes with vampire. Conjuration gives a slow self-heal. Hide out in a creepy cave and molest corpses.
  • Dunmer's fire resistance is best vampire. Other races merely dabble. Daywalker! (almost)


  • Bosmer seems a poor fit for Heavy Armor Nord mercenary Companions. However, Bosmer fits Hircine, cannibalism, werewolf and Aela the Huntress. Werewolf gives Bosmer a much-needed melee or escape option. He sleeps rough anyway. Shadow stone allows unobserved transformations?
  • Khajiit already do vampy nocturnal sneaking well, and need werewolf melee to counter Heavy Armor. Chase a robed assassin, catch a weretiger.
  • Nord flirts with werewolf before returning to respectable society once he grows into his Heavy Armor. Then gets hitched.
  • Orc werewolf stat bonus is initially helpful, but ultimately werewolf form is redundant with Orc's existing melee strength, so the rest bonus becomes increasingly attractive, especially once one wishes to power-level Smithing. He finds a thicc Orc gal and settles down to more respectable forms of mass murder.
  • Redguard stays werewolf due to robes. It is the secret power he sought from the sands. He will return to found his own pack of desert wolves.

Alternate Start

The mod Alternate Start — Live Another Life allows racial diversification of origin story. First select one's race, then randomize the starting location using the options below:

  1. Altmer: Thalmor; College of Winterhold; by ship
  2. Argonian: Windhelm dockworker (male); shipwrecked (male); Thief's Guild (female); Lord Harkon's Court (female)
  3. Bosmer: camping; inn; Erik the Slayer's childhood friend; Dawnguard
  4. Breton: Forsworn native; necromancer; Vlindrel Hall
  5. Dunmer: Morrowind refugee in Windhelm; vampire; Honeyside; Vigilant of Stendarr
  6. Imperial: Penitus Oculatus; Proudspire Manor; farmhouse
  7. Khajiit: caravan guard; Dark Brotherhood; escape cell
  8. Nord: Stormcloak; Breezehome; caught crossing border (vanilla Helgen)
  9. Orc: Orcish stronghold; Imperial soldier; outlaw in the wilds (bandit)
  10. Redguard: Alik'r; left for dead; Companions

Some explanatory notes:

  1. Altmer arrive by ship from the Summerset Isles.
  2. Argonians are more likely to be the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Castle Volikhar is an island. Dawnguard Volikhar side quests suit a thief. Egoism and resentment are lore-friendly reptilian motivations. From dock whore to vampire lord…
  3. Bosmer drink in inns because they're homeless nomads without evolved alcohol tolerance. Bosmer represent innkeep son Erik's ideal of nomadic adventure, and Erik tanks well. Dawnguard is crossbow-centric and finishes with Auriel's bow, suiting +15 Marksmanship and Bosmer nature alignment.
  4. Bretons are necromancers because +15 Conjuration raises the dead.
  5. Dunmer are vampires for the fire resistance and camouflaging red eyes and grey skin. Honeyside is in Riften, and the Rift borders Morrowind, home of Dunmer. Rich Dunmer flourish under Blackbriar rule.
  6. Imperials are Restoration paladins. The farmhouse was a land grant for legionary service. Imperials always have wealth to leverage Speech.
  7. Nord nobles start at Breezehome because Whiterun is quintessential Nordville. Vanilla Helgen is Nord because the dramatic choice between Imperial and Stormcloak is designed for Nords torn between cosmopolitan loyalty and ethnonationalist rebellion. Other races simply want to escape alive without fighting.
  8. Khajiit are assassins even naked, with their night vision and claws.
  9. Orcs earn acceptance as legionnaires but take equally to banditry — not to mention uncompensated acts of random combat.
  10. Redguard is left for dead in a raided caravan; nobody cares about finishing off a foreign mercenary. Another Redguard winds up in the Companions, looking for adventure far afield, learning Nord martial arts to take home.

Some players write backstories for their Skyrim characters. I think this is more appropriate for tabletop gaming. In a computer game as detailed as Skyrim, it's already difficult to make consistent in-character choices. A race and matching LAL origin allows a character to develop through his emergent in-game choices.

The ultimate goal of Skyrim is to transcend from roleplayer to LARPer. To start this final quest, read the in-game book "Children of the All-Maker". Then convert to Anastasianism and RETVRN to an eco-village to practice the lifeway taught by the (allegedly) psychic Nordic alien goddess. Playing different characters is like reincarnating repeatedly until your soul is at peace with hugging trees. Until then, enjoy killing bandits with a keyboard.



Redguards = Arabs in blackface

4 points
9 hours ago +4 / -0

I like to play as a Nord and beat Redguards to death with my bare hands. Then I go back to the tavern and sing a song about it, because that's what a Nord would do.

Don't be fooled by the we wuz kangs Arabs in blackface; Argonians are the real niggers of Skyrim. From the heart of darkness, the Black Marsh, in deepest Africa!

1 points
8 minutes ago


Within Morrowind, many Argonians were used for the practice of slavery, despite them being generally poorly suited for the practice. The Dunmer of Morrowind have performed countless slave raids into Black Marsh, and despite the outlawing of the Third Empire to do this, the practice persisted, resulting in a deep hatred between Argonian and Dunmer. While less popular among the Ashlanders, who never outlawed slavery…

Argonians have not traditionally kept slaves, as they despise the enslavement of their kind by the Dunmer. However, under the effects of the Mad Hist, the Xit-Xaht tribe enslaved many of their own species to rebuild the Ruins of Mazzatun. Argonian mothers would sometimes sell their own children into slavery. In Thorn, a city in Black Marsh heavily influenced by Morrowind due to being on the province's border, the Archein clan kept many slaves in and around the city. They were generally despised by their own kind, whom considered them traitors.

Except niggers are worse, because they actually celebrated nigger slavers for being so successful. Truly a retarded species.


negroid ~ Orcs + Argonians

FishyMan4201 points10 minutes ago

I'm surprised, given its relationship to consumeproduct, that Redguards aren't a master at lockpick and start the game with a bounty.

Also, here you go.

lol wtf

Actually Orcs do start with a bounty as bandit. I guess Skyrim divides negroid female and male archetypes into Argonian and Orc respectively.

German sperging

DeplorableGerman1 points1 hour ago

Argonians are not reptiles, nor lizards, nor amphibians ("dragons like shinies")

Argonians are not oppressed, those in Morrowind were a minority and Dunmer enslave everything and everyone if given the chance; Nords simply dislike them and Nords are free to disbar whoever they want from THEIR cities; Try that shit in Argonia/Black Marsh and see how far you get with your cutesy antics. Oh wait, the land will kill you before you can try anything. And IF you survive, a cohort of An-Xileel will shred you into wet bits. (Skyrim in-game mentions of Argonians and Khajiit being hounded from cities, general TES lore, Argonian lore, Oblivion Crisis lore)

Everything else; Meh. Blargh. Typical conprofag Muh Niggers and Sub"human"/Unworthy Scum content.

I don't particularly care about black folks and quite frankly, send them all back by all means, but the opposition to the Muhversity Muhrainbow is just as retarded in its efforts to smear and demean other races.

Go live in the African bush for a year, see how shitty and hard it is, then come back and tell us how UNGA BUNGA OH OH AH AH NICKABICKABOOBOO MONKEBRONKE blacks are.

Everything made sense once I saw the German username.

Reptilians are not reptiles. "Amphibian" is used in the semi-aquatic sense, not the Terran biological taxon. Nirn isn't Earth.

Argonians are oppressed in Skyrim, the subject of the post: https://elderscrolls.fandom.com/wiki/Argonians_(Skyrim)#Racerelations

Chimps are subhuman, not negroids. Negroids, Mongoloids and Caucasoids exhibit reptilian, insectoid and avian traits, respectively.

One can certainly observe that primitive negroids coexist with nature whereas Caucasian technology is killing Earth's biome in an historical eyeblink.

My post was guided by the logical consequences of the starting skill bonuses. If you see something racially demeaning in the results, blame the game designers.

Perk-purist Argonians need to go Thief's Guild and then Volikhar. Oppression is the obvious roleplaying motivation for this antisocial behavior. Heil Hitler.

DeplorableGerman-1 points3 hours ago

What a load of hogwash.

Nirn is not Earth - Therefore, your racialist noncery does not apply. Mod your Skyrim the way YOU want to by all means, but i will reserve the right to call you out on your bullshit.

Funny how you people equate freedom of speech with being able to freely espouse and spout off the most inane racialist bullshit…Makes a man think.

Races are different, we all get it. Races exist, we all get it. Both in real life and in the universe of TES.

WE. GET. IT. Doesn't mean you have to run around and use every demeaning descriptive under the sun.


Condolences on your autism. Nirn is imagined by humans to express mythic truths about Terran history. However, the OP limits itself to the racial diversity logically present in Skyrim, without inferring any implications for Terran races.

I don't support freedom of speech, especially yours. Freedom of speech is for brave, armed men only.

I doubt the OP contains any slurs. Feedback gets a little spicy when speaking with fellow racists. I understand your legal need to mince about, but in the South we are not afraid to speak the words of our ancestors.


NotAGlowy2 points33 minutes ago

Despite being unable to read - orcs get affirmative action straight into winterhold college with zero quests required

ThePipeGuy2 points45 minutes ago

See, I like the idea of limitations and different playstyles for different races.

"Lack of offensive capability explains Argonians' oppressed status and justifies thieving."

But after that complete horseshit I'll find a different mod to do it. Surprised they didn't mention the stores all have insurance too.

This post doesn't morally judge apocalyptic vampirism, much less theft. The point of roleplaying is to reflect the character's psychology. The fact that Argonians feel justified in stealing is a subtle redpill that the Stormcloaks are right. The mod obviously wouldn't say something so politically incorrect.

Knife-TotingRat 2 points 40 minutes ago +2 / -0

If Argonians lack offensive capability, how is it that they managed to totally spank the Dark Elves, for to do nothing more than march to their capital, fart in their collective faces, and go home?

That seems like a really bad-ass move that only the self-assured would even think of doing …

And Bosmer, claustrophobic? Has this person ever been in a truly wild forest? If they were Plains Elves, yeah, I could see them being claustrophobic, but claustrophobes do not belong in the woods, closed in by trees, bushes, etc, frankly.

I have no idea. It's not my fault if the historical lore doesn't match Skyrim's racial starting skill bonuses. I am just trying to make a racist game more racist, not running their writing department.

Bosmer get claustrophobic indoors and especially underground, like Legolas. Something to roleplay if desired.

FromTheShadows 3 points 38 minutes ago +3 / -0

Well, to be fair, they only did it after the Dark Elves' entire homeland got devastated, first after Lie Rock finally resumed its collision course with Vivec, and then when Red Mountain erupted. Until then, they were pretty bad at keeping slavers from raiding their homeland, despite it being a treacherous swamp with a terrain that alone should do the job at keeping out foreign invaders. The fact that slavers raided them at all does paint the Argonians as pretty pathetic. Their invasion of Morrowind was less of a badass move and more of a "kick them while they're down" play.

On a somewhat separate note, when you think about it, the idea that Dunmer regularly invaded Black Marsh to acquire slaves doesn't make sense at all due to the logistical difficulties involved with transporting living cargo across harsh to untraversable terrain in an enemy nation. The only way they could keep a steady supply of slaves coming in would be if the Argonians were actively giving or selling them to the Dark Elves. But that would go against a certain narrative and misconception concerning slavery in the real world that's been pushed for the past century.


armorless Redguards!?

14 min. ago

This is an interesting idea. But I can't imagen not being able to perk into some type of armor. A Redguard in the Companions without any armor perks would be insane in requiem. I personally am not that masochistic. An option to make this a little less hard core might be to add a seventh personal pick or to trade out one of the original six for one of the users choice.

Redguards are maybe the rarest playable race in-game. Why not make them a challenge race?

Robes are suitable for desert warfare. Don't miss a block and you'll be fine!

Redguards do have Alteration for mage armor. Use cryomancy to slow foes and dance around them.

Adrenaline Rush helps them avoid hits, and werewolf compensates for lack of armor.

Remember, Redguards also have Marksmanship. They're spellsword skirmishers. Maybe you're overestimating the difficulty.

One can always pick one's battles. No need to go dungeon diving until he's sufficiently leveled and geared, with a tanky companion. Cloth skirmishers fare poorly in tight spaces.

One goal of racially-restricted perks is to force the player to strategize his quest sequence. Stick to the steppe.

roleplaying against stereotype

5 min. ago

There are things I would consider roleplay errors here. You take the stereotypical race, and apply it to what is by definition and unarguably an outlier for every race bar one. Tamriel is for whatever reason very homogeneous - Cyrodilics go all over, some Dunmer got all exploded and had to move west, there are a bunch of Orsimer who have lived there a while, but in general Skyrim is packed full of Nords. If you are an Argonian in Skyrim, you're a fuckin weird Argonian. It stands very much to reason that you would pick up Skyrimmy traits rather than live like you're chilling under a Hist tree. Look at the way the Khajiit adapt - sure, they bitch about the cold, but they buck up and deal with it. If they needed to stick on heavy armour they'd learn to deal with that too.

Restrictions make a lot more sense when they are coming from somewhere much deeper than race. Breaching racial mores can make for some truly incredible roleplay - look at the Nord and Khajiit entering the College, in a world of weak characters they have depth purely from that dissonance, whereas that Thalmor going around doing Thalmory things looks like a cookie cutter.

Imagine the Lord of the Rings where Legolas and Gimli both hated each other because that's what elves and dwarves do. Where Bilbo and Frodo said fuck no I'm going to sit here in my hill cause leaving isn't what hobbits get up to. Interesting stories come from conflict, difference, change.

That doesn't mean a power gamer build is going to be any better - restrictions make sense, it just would seem better to me for those restrictions to be coming from a backstory rather than a skin colour.

The Lord of the Rings is canonical, of course. Bethesda's lore is considerably less so.

Your point is mostly orthogonal to mine. I looked at the racial starting bonuses, detected a pattern similar to that of an ecosystem, and elaborated on that pattern. I'm not trying to dictate anyone's playstyle. I'm just saying, "Hey, look at this cool emergent pattern." Emergence happens when each set's members are trying to fill a distinct niche to survive over iterations: skills, weapons, races, alternative starts, divines. Over time, an interlocking "ecosystem" evolves. I like finding the hidden solution.

The rest is just fluff to get people to look at it.

Lastly, it is spectacularly dishonest to call race "a skin colour" in real life, let alone Skyrim. Albino is not a race, nor is tan.

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