Race describes a character's physical features as a result of its species or heritage.
Mechanically, a.k.a. gamewise, your character's race is one of the most important things about them. Your character's race determines their physical dimensions and traits, such as height weight, musculature, and other aspects of their physical appearance. Your character's race does more than tell what they look like however, it also gives people a basic idea of what your character's personality is like. Many races (like Elves or Orcs) have certain characteristics drilled into them all their life, which means that they are almost guarenteed to act in a certain way, either because of a racial reputation that needs to be upheld, or a cultural responsability. Often however, the "average" example of a race is only useful as a basic blueprint or starting point of a character. Remember, the most fun and memorable characters are usually unique in some way.
Published player character races include:
To Imperials, the haughty, tall, golden-skinned peoples of Summerset Isle are called High Elves. The Ayleids referred to them as Salache, but they call themselves Altmer, or the "Cultured People". Altmer confidently consider themselves, with some justice, to be the most gifted in the arcane arts: able to control the flow of magic, Altmer make excellent spellcasters. However, the Altmer's smug self-assurance of superiority can be hard to put up with.
Argonians possess the most alien personalities in all of Tamriel. This reptilian race hails from the swamps of Black Marsh, and evolved to best suit their harsh homeland. Argonian appearance ranges from reptilian to almost human; this is caused by the Hist sap they ingest as hatchlings which ceremonially takes place on their Naming Day. Argonians have The ability to breathe underwater, and have high resistance to diseases and immunity to all poisons.
Bosmer, or Wood Elves, hail from the province of Valenwood and these elves reject formalities of the civilized world. In fact, their major cities are actually located in giant walking trees that roam the jungle province of Valenwood. They decorate their bodies to resemble their forest surroundings. Because of this, many view them as barbarians. Despite their infamy, they are known to be extremely agile and quick. Their nimbleness serves them best in any art involving thievery and are masters of the bow.
Bretons are the human descendants of the Aldmeri(Proto-Elves)-Nedic(Proto-Man) Manmer of the Merethic Era, now the inhabitants of the province of High Rock. Bretons feel an inborn, instinctive bond with the mercurial forces of magic and the supernatural. Many great sorcerers have come out of their home province of High Rock, and in addition to their quick and perceptive grasp of spellcraft, enchantment, and alchemy, even the humblest of Bretons can boast a high resistance to destructive and dominating magical energies.
The Dunmer, also known as Dark Elves, or Moriche in the Ayleid Language, are the ash-skinned, red-eyed, Elven peoples of the Eastern Empire. In the Empire, "Dark Elf" is the common usage, but among their Aldmeri brethren they are called "Dunmer". Their combination of powerful intellects with strong and agile physiques produce superior warriors and sorcerers. On the battlefield, Dunmer are noted for their skill with a balanced integration of the sword, the bow and destruction magic. In character, they are grim, aloof, and reserved, as well as distrusting and disdainful of other races.
Natives of the civilized, cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil, the Imperials are well-educated and well-spoken. The Imperial’s remarkable skill and training as light infantry have enabled them to subdue all the other nations and races and have created the Glorious Empire. However during the Great War of thirty years ago, the High Elven Thalmor brought the Empire to its knees; though the war officially ended in a truce, the Empire is now struggling to hold itself together.
Khajiit hail from the province of Elsweyr, and have a weakness for sweets, especially the drugs known as skooma and moonsugar. These feline humanoids are typically fast and deadly with claws, possessing an innate survival instinct and ability to see in the dark makes them excellent thieves. Other races regard them with unconcealed suspicion; so you will find them on the outskirts of towns.
The Nords are the children of the sky, a race of tall and fair-haired humans from Skyrim who are known for their incredible resistance to cold and magical frost. They are ferocious warriors, and eager to augment their martial skills they excel in all manner of warfare, and are known as a militant people by their neighbors. Nords have become embroiled in a brutal civil war in recent years, as calls for independence have increased.
Hailing from the mountainous regions around the oft-disputed Orsinium, the Orcs - "Orsimer" - have Elven blood, supposedly being transformed along with the spirit Malacath when Boethiah defeated him. They are feared warriors, able to harness a berserker rage, and excellent smiths, factors which led to Orcs becoming respected members of the Imperial army. Most Imperial citizens regard the Orc society as rough and cruel.
Redguards are the descendants of the men of the lost continent of Yokuda. While Redguard lore seems to blame the Lefthanded Elves and their underhanded magic for the destruction of their home, current knowledge does not point to any specific cause. Forced to watch as their home sank beneath the waves, the ancestors of the Redguards sailed East, and eventually hit the continent of Tamriel. Landing in the dusty badlands of the province of Hammerfell, they took Tamriel by storm, forcing out the Bretons of High Rock who owned most of Hammerfell at the time, as well as the race of Orcs, and many small Nord Kingdoms on the border with Skyrim.