Time in The Elder Scrolls universe is primarily divided into Eras. The Dawn era marks the birth of this fantasy universe and continues with the Mythic Era further advancing from the First Era to the fourth one.
TESO takes place in the Second Era, specifically in a period of time known as Interregnum. As its name suggests (between kingdoms), it was a time of political instability. It began with the end of the Second Empire, marked by the assassination of Savirien Chorak, the last Akaviri Potentate and lasted until Tiber Septim founded the Third Empire. While The Elder Scrolls Online is currently in beta stage, there is plenty of information concerning the game’s timeline, included in TESO guides available online, but not only.
The game has three major playable factions: the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart Pact.
The Aldmeri Dominion is an alliance formed by three different races to fight against Men (humans). The Altmer, also known as High Elves are the first one that colonized Tamriel. They see themselves as a superior race and their high level of civilization is shown through their impressive architecture and extensive libraries. The Altmer are also very skilled in battle and have powerful mage abilities, which is why they are the leaders of this alliance. The Bosmer or the Wood elves are an agile and curious race. There are known to be highly proficient hunters and guides. Thanks to their curiosity and swiftness, the Bosmer became adroit thieves and masters of stealth. The feline race of Khajiit, was significantly crippled during the Knahaten Flu outbreak. As the Altmerians offered great support for restoring the order in Khajiit’s territory they are now loyal to them and can be seen in the first lines of Aldmeri Dominion’s armies.
The Daggerfall Covenant includes the Bretons, the Redguards and the Orcs. These three races, which had been enemies for a long time, managed to unite mainly forced by harsh economic conditions caused by the chaos following the assassination of the last Akavi Potentate. The Breton race are leading this alliance as King Emeric, the ruler of Daggerfall Covenant is one of their own. The elven blood that still runs through the veins of Breton people shows in their inclination towards magic. However, Bretons are also known for their craftsmanship and merchant skills. The Redguards are desert warriors that highly value their traditions and survival abilities. Honor and dignity are the most important value for this race, and even if they have the utmost belief in the divine, magical things are seen as suspicious. Last, but not least the third race included in the Daggerfall Covenant is the Orcs. While other races see them as cruel beasts, the Orcs are noble warriors with a history forged in bloody battles carried across their mountain homelands with harsh climate. As the Orc nation fought its way to the present, they have learned to forge amazing weapons and armors and are some of the most skilled smiths.
The third major faction that will be playable in TESO universe is the Ebonheart Pact. This fragile alliance was formed during the second Akaviri Invasion when the Nords where fighting the Akaviri army and the Dunmer and the Argonians joined their cause for yet to be explained reasons. Nevertheless, these three races which previously considered each other enemies are now united as the Ebonheart Pact. The Nords are the leading nation of this alliance and they are seen as fierce warriors and conquerors. As highly capable diplomats, the Dunmer have repeatedly used this skill along with their strategic ability and subterfuges to defend against provincial invasions. During the long period spent as slaves of the Dunmer, the Argonians have become experts in guerrilla-style warfare and managed to defend their borders from significantly larger armies.