Why I Like Bretons

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I play a lot of Bretons in Skyrim. I have played other races in the Elder Scrolls games, but by far the Bretons are my favorite. In this article I’m just going to go over why I enjoy playing this particular race and some game plays I’ve done with them.

History

To understand who the Bretons (Skyrim specific article) are you first have to know where they come from. Unlike most races in Tamriel, Bretons (their line is dubbed “manmer”) are a mixed race composed of Aldmer and Nedic ancestry. The two races interbred before much of recorded history in the middle Merethic Era in an area known as High Rock. Both races’ history and origins are subject to conjecture, but according to most sources of lore in the games the Aldmer are supposedly the first elven (“mer”) race on Tamriel, while the Nedes were the first human (“man”) race.

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As the Nedes expanded throughout the land in the Merethic Era, they eventually come to an area that will later be known as High Rock. Sometime later a group of Aldmer (or Altmer depending on the source) under the name of the Direnni clan, also made their way to High Rock. With their superior culture they pushed the Nedes into poverty, servitude, and slavery. Many injustices were done to the Nedes in High Rock, including the use of them as concubines. After a few generations, it was clear from the mixed breeding that there was a new race being born which had special abilities.

By the end of the First Era, the Bretons were fully in control of High Rock (except for Orsinium which is owned by the Orcs) and had absorbed any Elven, Nordic and Imperial tribes that had set up settlements in the area.

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Religion, Society, and Architecture

At first the Bretons started out as a Nedic civilization, worshiping the constellations of Nirn and mysterious beings called The Celestials. As they expanded they became more inspired by their elven ancestors due to the Breton’s affinity for all things arcane. Most Bretons have adopted the new pantheon of the Divines created by the Alessian Order to combine both Elven and Nordic traditions, but all known religions of Tamriel still focus greatly on the constellations.

Their culture is best described by UESP Wiki’s article on the subject [1]:

“The Bretons’ largely agrarian and hierarchical society is feudal in nature. Most Breton cities are sprawling trade hubs, and most of the people are either middle-class peasants or destitute beggars. The jockeying for power amongst the various monarchs and powers of the Iliac Bay region is a deeply ingrained, even cherished, part of Breton culture. […] The desire to find some great opportunity for fortune and glory has made Bretons venture all over northern Tamriel. […]  They’re often considered a friendly and humorous people, though there is little love lost between many Bretons and Redguards following the vicious War of Betony.

Bretons are said to enjoy intellectual pursuits; they often have an affinity for anything related to logic and ordered complexity. Their love of knowledge and affinity for commerce drives them into a host of careers, including trading, the military, sailing, medicine, textiles, manufacturing, writing, theology, banking, all kinds of artistry, and other scholarly pursuits. Espionage has also proven to be one of their strong suits; Breton double agents, assassins, and spies have turned the tide of wars throughout recorded history.”

Most Bretons accepted and even profited by Imperial rule. Even during the events of Skyrim the Bretons still supported the empire.

Despite the fact that the Bretons are known to squabble with each other politically, their language, architecture, and their names are very consistent. They share the common language of Tamriel, based on the language created by the Ehlnofey. For the names the creators tend to use ones inspired by our Old English/Modern English with an old-world feel. They also use Gaelic, or French types as well. Here is an article on Breton names from ESLore as well as an article on names from UESP.

Breton architecture is similar to our medieval architecture, however Bretons value “function over form.” Their dwellings tend to be modest, even for the wealthy. Many of their cities and towns boast walls for protection.

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Example Breton architecture from the Elder Scrolls Online. City: Stornhelm. From UESP Wiki.

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Appearance

The Bretons look the most like their fair skinned human cousins. Although they do have higher, arched eyebrows, higher cheekbones, and more lithe frames like their elven descendants. Some Bretons even have slightly pointed ears.

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Bretons! Vanilla Skyrim models. Image from UESP Wiki.

In the early games they were described as being tall [2]. Since Morrowind was published, their appearance has changed somewhat.

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Skills and Racial Abilities

As described in the Skyrim:Races page on UESP (other games’ pages: Arena:Races, Daggerfall:Races, Battlespire:Races, Morrowind:Races, Oblivion:Races), Bretons have:

Racial Powers

Skill Bonuses

Skills and Racial Abilities with Disparity [4]

Racial Powers

  • Resist Magic 15%
  • Absorb 10% of magic from hostile spells (It’s now a constant effect, but the amount is much lower for balance)

Skill Bonuses

  • +10 Conjuration, Restoration, Alteration,
  • +5 Illusion, 5 Alchemy, 5 Speech

Disparity also allows for skills to progress at different levels, so you have major, minor, and regular skills that increase at varying rates. This helps a lot with leveling.

All the skill sets and racial bonuses available to Bretons allow them to be well suited for many magic-orientated classes [5] such as Pilgrims, Mages, or Sorcerers. I actually like to create more stealthy characters. Not necessarily thieves, but ones that can incorporate stealth skills like sneaking and lockpicking in with magic. This is where I take an already defined class with a racial overhaul mod and rejuggle some major stats to better suit my character.

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So, Why Do I Like Bretons?

Looking at the general stats, Imperials have more well-rounded skills. I like to think that if used properly the Breton can also be suitable for any profession. Their affinity for the arcane obviously makes them great Mages, but Illusion can highly benefit a Thief. Restoration, Alchemy, and their ability to resist and absorb magicka will aid a Mercenary. Speech can profit Bards. Their magical bonuses will immensely support any style of character.

The other reason why I like Bretons is that they’re so individual within their own race. Their whole society is based on a person being unique. They’re widely known to be adventurous to the point of taking absurd risks. With the type of characters I usually like playing, these traits really suit and appeal to me. Besides, how can you have a savior of the world and not have them take foolish risks? I’m not saying other races aren’t individual or don’t appeal to me. All the races have their advantages and disadvantages and all can be molded into any type of character you want. I’ve also played multiple other races, including Redguards, Imperials, Nords, and Dunmer. However, with Bretons I found my perfect race for the games.

Here is a post I did outlining some of my favorite Dragonborns I’ve made for Skyrim. Most of them are Bretons.

Hope you enjoyed the article. What are your favorite races, or a race you often play in these games?

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Footnotes

[1] From the UESP Breton article: “During character creation in TES: Arena, choosing the Breton race elicits the following: “Thy race is descended from the ancient Druids of Galen, quick witted and strong in the mystical arts. Thy folks are crafty and intelligent, a learned people who use their gifts to guide others to enlightenment…” There has been no mention of the Druids of Galen since.”

[2] According to the games Arena and Daggerfall, the Bretons are considered “tall” along with the High Elves (Altmer in later games), the Dark Elves (Dunmer), and Nords. This is no longer the case, as starting with Morrowind and continuing with the more recent games the Bretons’ height as a whole comes in shorter than most other races.

[3] In Morrowind and Oblivion, Bretons boasted a +5 to Mysticism, which is no longer a school of magic. They also had a +10 to Restoration. Speech as a skill for the Bretons is new to Skyrim. Strength, Endurance, and other attributes (which are not in Skyrim’s vanilla character creation but added to the race itself) have been slightly adjusted within each separate game.

[4] I use Disparity a lot in my games. It allows me greater customization when choosing a path outside of one that would be typical for the race. See here how I use it to create my characters. Disparity is not the only mod like this. Check out my post for more!

[5] There are no classes in Skyrim’s character creation for the base game and therefore no major or minor skills. All skills increase at the same rate. The classes I refer to are from the mod Disparity, which takes their skill sets from Morrowind and adjusts them for the Skyrim engine.

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Disclaimer

This article contains material and references from the UESP Wiki. It’s licensed under the Creative Commons by-sa license.

All sources are referenced with links to give credit to the respective authors on the wiki or to authors from their own, personal websites. All game content is owned by Bethesda Studios and/or ZenimaxOnline and is used under the Fair Use law.

I’m just a big fan girl. 🙂

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