Khajiits, in one form or another, have been a part of The Elder Scrolls games since the very beginning.
Their natural agility, stealth and silver-tongues make them effective thieves, assassins and competent warriors on the battlefield. As of writing, my Level 18 Dragonknight in The Elder Scrolls Online is a Khajiit, and his damage output and dexterity causes real problems for mobs, bosses and bandits. His racial talents, combined with my tree-building, have merged to make a very fearsome adversary indeed.
But what is it about these ferocious beasts that make them so magical and enchanting?
Currently inhabiting Tamriel, Khajiits originally came from Elsweyr, and are renowned peddlers and merchants. Khajiits’ are renowned for having a sweet tooth and are revered for their production of Moon Sugar, a racial treasure proudly distributed among their wares.
Because of their naturally cunning exterior, few trust them and find their conversational style unorthodox – due to them talking in the third person – and unsettling. But many would also claim that this apprehension is partly linked with racial prejudice.
Much like the Argonians, Humans across the realm – mostly notably Nords – regard Khajiits as ‘beast-men’ because of their un-humanlike appearance. For many years, Khajiits and Argonians were sold into slavery and served rich lords and industries, until King Helseth Hlaalu outlawed slavery altogether. Ever since that time, Khajiits’ and Argonians have lived free and been able to do as they please, though many still disrespect, suspect, and even fear them.
There are conflicting stories of how Khajiits came to be. Their religion believes they are descended from Ahnurr and Fadomai, who birthed great spiritual children, including the first cat, Alkosh. However, there are doubts that the story is true, and many believe Khajiits’ just naturally evolved from non-sentient cats and made deals with more intelligent species, enabling them to learn literacy and become more self-sustaining.
But what is interesting is that, in The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Khajiits’ are not introduced to us as cats, and are actually closer to men. A Khajiits’ form depends on the Phase of the Moon during the time of its birth. As a result, there are four main groups that a Khajit can fall into, and within those four groups are also smaller variants.
The end result? There are, at least, seventeen known breeds of Khajiit, but at least twenty are believed to exist. A Khajiit can dynamically and dramatically evolve along the life-scale, going from the form of a house cat, to a fully-formed ferocious jaguar. They can even look like a human.
In The Elder Scrolls: Arena, we’re introduced to Ohmes Khajiit. These more human-looking types celebrate their origins by painting their face in the style of their ancestors. They still maintain many of the natural traits of a Khajiit and have lightning-fast reflexes and incredible flexibility. However, this breed of Khajiit is quite rare, numbers paling in comparison to the Suthay-raht, being the most common.
While we know Khajiit can use a variety of weapons – from bows to maces – they actually prefer to use their claws in combat, and these can still be very effective in bringing a well-trained warrior to their knees. These creatures have feisty survival instincts and a lot of fire to back it up, especially considering how long they were oppressed and how much pent up resentment their species must still have toward their slavers.
Even before they were thrust into slavery, these enigmatic creatures attempted to populate the world by natural means. They inhabited Tamriel – alongside the Argonians – long before the Elves arrived, yet were pushed back into the forest and marshes by humans and elves upon their arrival and left to fend for themselves in small groups of nomadic tribes and traders.
Nowadays, there is a strong racial hatred shared between Khajiit and Argonians, despite how they were both oppressed and commonly treated. It is somewhat ironic that these two species never learned to co-exist.
It’s unsurprising why some are still bitter.
Still, the story of their success is inspiring, and certainly can be appreciated by many who live and breathe on this Earth.
As playable characters, Khajiits have evolved dramatically over the years, from the man-cats in Arena, to the only race that can have piercings in Oblivion and finally being able to wear helmets and boots in The Elder Scrolls Online.
Khajiits have become one of the most popular races for players wishing to explore any Elder Scrolls game, and their story of survival is one that lives in on the hearts of the modern-day adventurer, seeking to restore balance to a fractured world.
Where the timeline takes them next is anyone’s guess…