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An arcanist with their tome

Arcanists are spellcasters who wield runic spellforms learned from a tome touched by the forces of Apocrypha, the Oblivion realm of Hermaeus Mora. This tome is both the source of knowledge from which the arcanist learns of the spells they wield and the vector through which these spells are cast. In other words, their power is derived from the book itself: knowledge alone is one thing, but arcanists are unique in that the tome they wield is integral to their spellcasting. All mages use runes of some kind, but the runework wielded by arcanists is extremely elaborate on top of producing unique feats of spellwork.[1]

The Arcanist's TomeEdit

Every arcanist's tome is unique.[UOL 1] The knowledge in each tome is suited to the mind and soul of each individual arcanist: if one arcanist were to attempt to read another's book, they would find it impossible to learn from. Just like the tomes themselves, the process of becoming an arcanist is equally unique—no arcanist discovers their tome the same way as another, and the bond formed between a tome and its caster is wholly unique.[2] As well, the tomes seemingly have a mind of their own: they communicate with their wielders, though not through audible words. Not all tomes "behave" the same way.[3][2]

The contents and context within the tomes often shifts, showing arcanists things they should and shouldn't know respectively. The tomes can also travel of their own accord, occasionally teleporting to different locations.[3][4] Arcanist tomes are not Black Books,[UOL 2] though Hermaeus Mora himself has compared the two: both are forms of knowledge that he allows into Nirn.[UOL 3] The Prince of Knowledge is capable of communicating with arcanists through these tomes.[5]

An arcanist summoning tentacles

The Arcanist's ArsenalEdit

Runes and language are the foundation from which an arcanist's power is derived. Arcanists are capable of commanding runeforms, metaphorically scribing the rune on reality to change its form. The knowledge granted from these tomes enables the arcanist to wield a variety of spells. Using the book as a focus, an arcanist may command runeforms, project beams, conjure sturdy spell armor matrices, and command unique restorative magics.[1][6] Arcanists can carve a specific entity's rune to manifest unique spells.[7] Various arcanist spells generate an arcane resource known as "crux", which these spellcasters can consume to empower and strengthen many of their other spells.[8]

During the Interregnum, scholars of the Mages Guild surmised that the runework wielded by arcanists was a universal language understood by every arcanist.[1] However, this is untrue: an arcanist's runework is wholly unique to that individual. The runes they cast don't have specific, exact meanings like enchantment glyphs, but are instead symbols for the metamagical subconscious of the wielder. A sigil that means "fire" to one arcanist could mean something entirely different to another, despite using the same rune.[2] Arcanists who specialize in runes are sometimes referred to as "rune-carvers".[3]

An arcanist's "crux" floating around them

Tentacles are just as much a common sight in the arcanist's arcane repertoire due to their connection with Mora's realm. Tentacles are primarily used for offensive purposes, but can also be used for protection: a caster may summon tentacles to encircle them, forming a spell shield to deflect or dampen an incoming blow.[1][9]

The Abyssal Sea of Mora's realm, with endless secrets drowned in its depths, is a great source of power for arcanists, who channel its waters and bend them to their will. Arcanists are capable of manipulating probability in inventive ways, a skill reminiscent of Hermaeus Mora's fate sight.[1] Some arcanists possess a strong grasp of the fabric of their own soul.[10]

For the arcanist, spellcasting consists of a good deal of hand-waving. Renowned arcanist Azandar al-Cybiades surmised that the reason arcanists tend to favor sweeping hand-motions is due to the nature of Apocrypha itself. As al-Cybiades described it, magicka flows through an arcanist's mind while spellcasting with a robustness not experienced quite as regularly by other mages. All the extra potentiality generated by the arcanist's eldritch power needs to be directed somewhere: as a result, an arcanist may find themselves inadvertently summoning tentacles if the motions they make to cast a less taxing spell (such as conjuring flame to heat water for a cup of tea) are a little too forceful.[2]

The arcanist's spellcraft falls under the schools of Mysticism and Conjuration.[2]

Being an ArcanistEdit

"We use the power of forbidden knowledge ..."
"Searching for untold secrets."
"But there is a price to be paid when calling upon the unknown."
"Sometimes ... the unknown ... answers"
"Open your mind."
"The knowledge you seek ... is waiting."
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom - Wield the Power of the Arcanist [11]
An arcanist's tome

One becomes an arcanist when an eldritch tome somehow finds its way to Nirn, ultimately seeking out and binding itself to a mortal soul which perfectly matches its arcane resonance.[2] At least one known arcanist has "accidentally" walked this path when an arcanist's tome "bit" him.[2] Those who become arcanists are said to align with Apocrypha as easily as one learns to breathe or speak.[UOL 3] Despite their innate connection with Hermaeus Mora, not all arcanists are devout followers of the Prince: some arcanists outright hate or distrust him.[1]

Similarly to magic itself, arcanists are diverse and unique people with different methods to their path. Some view it as a new way of life, others in a more methodical and scholarly manner. Others still crave knowledge as deeply as the Prince whose realm their power stems from, and some take up an isolated life of scholarship.[2] Many see this magic as a means to an end, a way of defending themselves or achieving unique goals, while others pledge themselves fully to the One-Who-Knows in mind, body and soul, resulting in blatant Daedric corruption.[3]

Being an arcanist can be a troubling experience at times: they may occasionally experience vivid sensory phenomena, such as feeling the waters of the abyssal sea rushing through their head. Regardless, most arcanists find that the price they pay for eldritch knowledge is worth it for the power they wield.[3] It is customary for arcanists to establish sanctums to practice their craft.[3][12][13]


Arcanists gained prominence in the academic world during the Interregnum. In 2E 582, more arcanists than ever before utilized the craft in the public sphere, but they are believed to have existed for much longer.[1] Acclaimed scholar and arcanist Azandar al-Cybiades theorized that a change in the fabric of reality caused this influx of new arcanists, with the Planemeld being cited as a potential catalyst for the sheer number of tomes that traveled to Nirn in such short time.[2] Arcanists in this time were known to style their hair in an uncomplicated crest.[14]

Morian Zenas had an influence on the arcanist's craft in the Second Era, with his obscure magics making their way into a common arcanist's repertoire.[UOL 4][15] Other figures such as the Blind Man‎‎, Fate Crone, and Baron of Breakers can be invoked by arcanists.[7] They can be contacted by arcanists seeking power and knowledge.[16][17][18] At some point in history, the Rune Knights of the Purgatory Disquisition wielded and perfected a variety of runic spellcraft which found itself in the skillset of arcanists during the Interregnum.[2][19]

Notable ArcanistsEdit

Renowned arcanist Azandar al-Cybiades


  • To at least one arcanist, the preferred pronunciation of the trade is "arr-can-ist".[2]

See AlsoEdit




Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.