The wood elves, or Bosmer, of The Elder Scrolls are a fair bit wilder and infinitely stranger than those you'd find in other contemporary fantasy franchises, such as Dungeons & Dragons or The Lord of the Rings. They do share some entirely expected traits, such as essentially being nature-worshiping hippies and possessing an uncanny aptitude when it comes to archery, but their affinity with nature takes a much darker turn than the other versions would ever dare consider.
Of course, the promise of dark secrets and suspicious pacts is enough to pique anyone's interest. But more than that, the Bosmer boast a quirky and unique philosophy and culture that is entirely worth looking into on its own. And as per usual, the good people here at Game Rant have done just that, doing all the digging so you won't have to! All you need to do is scroll down and enjoy ten incredible facts about the nature enthusiasts of the Elder Scrolls, the Wood Elves.
10 They Adhere To The Green Pact
Central the wood elves' way of life is their adherence to the Green Pact, an oath they've sworn to the forest deity Y'ffre. The purpose of the pact is to preserve the natural order of Valenwood, that the wood elves may live within it and avoid its disruption.
It presents several stipulations that the Bosmer must abide by. In broad strokes, the Bosmer may not harm any vegetation nor trees, and they must pursue a strictly meat-based diet. As one might imagine, this has a significant impact on the way that they conduct their livelihoods, creating an incredibly distinct culture.
9 The Meat Mandate Determines Their Diet
As mentioned, the Green Pact dictates that the wood elves follow a strictly meat-based diet, sometimes called the "Meat Mandate," and an additional stipulation is that they must put to use the entirety of any creature that they kill. To be abundantly clear, that is every part of every creature that they kill, regardless of sentience, and even in times of war.
As a result, and much to the horror of other races, wood elves must consume or otherwise put to use the corpses of their slain enemies, be they man, mer, creature, or monster. Facing the wood elves in combat must then be particularly demoralizing, knowing that if they kill you, they will eat you, and quite literally grind your bones.
8 They Can Trade For Items That Violate The Pact
Although wood elves are strictly forbidden from arts such as carpentry or woodworking, as it would necessitate harming the trees, it is perfectly acceptable for them to trade for the crafts of other races. After all, these are items that have already been fashioned, and putting them to use, in its own sort of way, fulfills the Green Pact.
This also helps them to regulate the excesses generated by putting the entirety of any creature they've killed to good use, and being the skilled hunters that they are, Bosmer generally have great stores of hide, bone, and meat to trade for items and articles that they themselves are forbidden from creating.
7 Bosmer Are Impeccable Marksmen
Although elves in general can usually be described as nimble, dexterous, and sharp-eyed, the Bosmer take this description to its absolute extreme. Nowhere is this more evident than their keen mastery of the bow, drawing and loosing arrows with unmatched alacrity.
Rumors abound that it was they who invented the art of archery to begin with. Though they cannot fashion conventional wooden bows of their own, Bosmeri-wrought bows are often made from bone and sinew to circumvent breaching the Green Pact.
6 They Live In Tree-Houses
This might seem like an outright violation of the Green Pact at first, but it's all in the methodology utilized in constructing their homes. The Bosmer do not need to chop trees and "build" their structures utilizing produced lumber, but rather they make use of magic to grow, bend, and shape trees or branches into functional shelters, or walkways among the forest canopy.
And as mentioned, they can import and trade in goods that were fashioned by other races, putting them to use in the creation of more conventional buildings. Coupled with their ability to use bone, sinew, and hide, the Bosmer can create villages not entirely unlike those of other races as well.
5 The Wild Hunt Is A Part Of The Green Pact
Although it's a difficult topic to tackle in summary, the Wild Hunt is basically a product of the Green Pact. The Bosmer may invoke it in times of great distress, rendering them the ability to transform into a pack of powerful, nigh-unstoppable beasts capable of rending apart any impediment that should happen upon them.
Seemingly utilized only as a last resort due to the immense and uncontrollable destruction it often entails, there are precious few examples of the Wild Hunt to be seen over the course of Tamriel's history. One such event was the slaying of King Borgas during the first era, when he sought to make war on Valenwood. Needless to say, the Hunt got him first.
4 Their Cities Can Move
The wood elves, while not entirely averse to conventional settlements and housing, tend to build their cities among the trees. There are special trees within Valenwood, known as the graht-oak, that are particularly well suited to this purpose due to a certain peculiar property that they possess.
The graht-oaks, to say it quite plainly, are capable of movement, meaning that the wood elf cities built upon them are also mobile. As one can imagine, this is immensely handy. The most famous of these moving cities is Falinesti, aptly titled the "Walking City" due to its habitual relocation throughout the seasons.
3 They're Represented By The Silvenar
Just as the Khajiit have their Mane, and the Dunmer have their Nerevarine, the wood elves have the Silvenar. All at once a spiritual guide and political figurehead, the Silvenar is a sort of omnipresent generational hero that continuously arises among the Bosmer after the passage of the last one.
The Silvenar embodies the very spirit of the Bosmer people, having a keen and unerring sense of their wants and needs, and as such, tends to represent them for the purpose of political interactions. For this reason he is given much power and authority in the affairs of Valenwood, and understandably so.
2 They Avoid Using Fire When They Can
It has been implied by in-game books that the usage of fire in Valenwood is dangerous. This makes sense, since not only does it entail the consumption of lumber, which the wood elves do not produce, but its mere presence poses a threat to the vegetation they have sworn to protect.
This would normally make navigation difficult, particularly at night within the densely forested region, but the wood elves have learned to adapt to this inconvenience quite ingeniously. Certain types of glowing fungus and moss aid the eye, and certain flowers are cultivated in their tree cities that attract torchbugs, providing a natural, living light source.
1 Bosmer Are Particularly Fond Of Thievery
Though hardly surprising given their talents for stealth and agility, there is actually a sanctioned practice and tradition among the Bosmer known as the "Rite of Theft," and it works entirely opposite to the way that most other races would handle matters of thievery.
Under the rite of theft, a Bosmer may steal an item (or items) from their colleagues, and then when returning the item to its former owner, demand recompense in equal measure to the item's value. While it sounds like a good bit of fun in theory, it's no doubt frustrating to foreigners and outsiders, who would just as soon report thieves to the proper authorities.