General:Skeleton Man's Interview with Denizens of Tamriel
An interview with some Vvardenfell locals about Morrowind and its culture, conducted by Skeleton Man. This interview was initially published on The Hall of Adventurers fansite on February 19, 1999. You can find a backup of the original on the Wayback Machine. The original archive can be viewed on The Imperial Library.
For those of you interested in the land of Morrowind, you'll be happy to know that I took a trip there recently. I met with the locals of the land, and they told me many things about the place, that may be of importance. I have compiled a log of the journey and my conversations, it would do you well to read it. All text surrounded by [ ] are notes made by me, to help people understand some things. MN is short for Manka Naram.
Keep in mind that these answers are copyrighted by Bethesda. It is exclusive to this website, do not place it on any others. You may provide a link to it, however.
All answers © 1999 by Bethesda Softworks
Greetings! My name is Manka Naram, better known as Skeleton Man. Over the last few years, I have spent time travelling Tamriel, and learning about the land. Everywhere I went, scholars talked to me about the various provinces of Tamriel; none, however, seemed to be very wise about Morrowind. I decided, finally, that I should come here and see first hand what it is like. I've spent a few months exploring the province, and I learned many things during my stay that may be of interest or entertainment to others wishing to know about the Land of Ash. I've gathered the best of my question-and-answer sessions below. Enjoy!
The people of this country dress very interesting, I have never seen anything like it before. I asked one of the warriors of the Redoran clan about his clothing, and he explained to me that the constant ash storms are why he was dressed that way. However, his armor seemed to be almost organic, and I don't see how that could offer protection. Why do the people wear such different and interesting attire?
Ada'tyool Vren [Border chap'thiil near Dunmeth Path-- his Tamrielic was not so good]:
Whaat..? What you say? Tell me this word you say organic. Alive, you mean? It's no alive! I kill it myself with two fists and a spear in my teeth! My wives they strip the shell and lacquer the plates and twine the joints so I can move! Now everyone knows Vren has seen the wastes and is no way afraid! This is no different I see than the loud beards I meet come from the snowlands. They kill the what I think is bear and wear it, or kill the howlers and use them for rugs! HA! Those my boy could kill, but they drink how you say mead and brag about it laughing in the clansteads! Here in Véloth, you see good, we kill something, we no make a rug for our house, we make a house! Hear me good, noiché-el!
Everywhere I go, I see people riding large crab-like creatures that I have seen no where else. Also, the people seem to be herding giant insects. This land certainly has unique animals; I have never seen anything like it elsewhere in Tamriel. How do you explain it?
Travis Ulchovik, Senior Zoologist with the Imperial Flora and Fauna Survey, Northeast Bureau:
The ecology of Morrowind has been influenced heavily by two factors -- the high mountain range to the west and the Vvardenfell geologic zone. The mountains have served to isolate the indigenous creatures of Morrowind from the rest of Tamriel, while the pervasive ash-fall from Vvardenfell has served to twist the ecology of Morrowind to those forms of life which can survive in its unique environment. Excavation has shown that, even before the major eruption which created the Vvardenfell we know today, the northern highlands were a region of constant volcanic and geologic activity Morrowind has always lived in the shadow of the ash drifting across it in the prevailing northerlies. Its various flora and fauna not only have adapted to survive the ashfall, they have come to depend on it. This is why, for example, the sand kwoom or long-legged velks are an extreme rarity outside of the province -- only a very wealthy man could afford to import enough kresh-weed to keep one alive outside its native land.
Morrowind seems to rely heavily on slavery, imprisoning almost every race in Tamriel. Why is it that the Dark Elves consider all these other races so poorly?
Ulchevan Aino, agent for the Briricca Company of Cyrodiil, Cyrodiil:
Dunmer despise all other races. They seem to reserve a special passionate hatred of Altmer and Bosmer [High and Wood Elves- MN], but I've never seen slaves of either race - though I'm told they do exist. The Dunmer I know also avoid offending humans by keeping human slaves of any nation, although slaves with Nordic features are common enough in the north. Most slaves, however, are beastpeoples -some Catmen, Apemen, and Orcs - but by far the most common slaves are Argonian. The Dark Elves historically considered all beastpeoples and humans to be mere animals, and as such no more than domesticated chattels. It is only since Imperial times that they have grudgingly acknowledged humans as men.
I have met many other Elves before, and noticed that the Dark Elves look far different. Why are they so different, particularly their eye and skin color?
Galvori Tel, trooper in the Hlaalu House Guard:
You may have met many Elves before, Human, but you have only now met the Pureblooded Folk. Consider yourself fortunate to tread the Land of Ash. Those other "Elves", as you call them, are a pale and mongrel breed, tainted and lessened by their long association with the beast races. The Dunmer have remained true to their heritage, and retain the handsome features of the ancient Aldmer.
It is said that the Chimer were precursors to the Dark Elves. Translated, Chimer is the "Changed Folk". What exactly are or were the Chimer, and how are they related to the Dark Elves?
Dres Molagi, Mansion Chaplain of Lichen Fields, Tear:
Listen: "Of all the et'Ada who wandered the early Nirn, Trinimac was the strongest. He, for a very long time, fooled the Alcharyai [Aldmeri- MN] into thinking that tears were the best response to the Sundering. They cried and shamed our ancestors, especially the feminine Saliache [High Elves- MN]-they even took the Missing God's name in vain, calling His narratives into question. So one day Boethiah, Prince of Plots, precocious youth, he tricked Trinimac to go into his mouth. Boethiah talked like Trinimac for awhile then, and gathered enough people to listen to him. Boethiah showed them the lies of the White et'Ada, the Aedra, and told them that Trinimac was the biggest liar of all, saying all this with Trinimac's voice! Boethiah told the mass before him the Tri-Angled Truth. He showed them, with Mephala, the rules of Psijii's Endeavor. He taught them how to build Houses, and what items they needed to bury in the Corners. He demonstrated the right way to wear their skin. He performed the way to walk to achieve an Exodus. Then Boethiah relieved himself of Trinimac right there on the ground before them to prove all the things he said were the truth. It was easy then for his new people to become the dark Moriche [Chimer-MN], the Changed Ones."
The great volcano Vvardenfell interests me greatly, but I have heard little about it. What can you tell me?
Sean Conlan, minor scribe of the Imperial Visitors Center, Shadowgate Pass It dominates the minds and spirits of Dunmer. It looms high above the horizon in all northern settlements. It is sacred, and a site of pilgrimages - that is, folk travel to shrines on its remote flanks, but the Ghostfence prevents any travel to the peak and crater themselves. It is a personal ambition to visit one of these sites, but the volcano is sacred, and access is limited by the Temple. I hear you can arrange for private tours which involve courtesy membership in the Tribunal Cult, but even courtesy membership is forbidden to members of the Tiberius Imperator Cult [the Citizenship Cult- MN], since the Morrowind Temple is on the Proscribed List of Hostile Cults.
Why are many areas in Morrowind named after Daedra? Dagon Fell, Azura's Coast, Bal Ur and the various regions with Molag in the name, and Sheogorad all seem to be related to Daedra. Do the Dark Elves have some relation with the Daedra, possibly involving the Tribunal?
Coewryn Shelly, Breton Scholar, Center for Provinicial Religious Studies, Caldera:
Daedra, like Gods to the other cultures, are sacred to the Dunmer. They even consider Boethiah as the first of their kind. Well, I should say some of the Daedra are sacred and some are not and some enjoy the nebulous positions of being Adversaries. These Adversaries are also known as the "Four Corners of the House of Troubles," and a special place is reserved for them in the mythology of the Tribunal. At any rate, it is nothing really remarkable that many of their districts and quarters are named after the Daedra. I'll grant that, to strangers, it may seem odd that the Dunmer hold the darker powers in esteem; rest assured, though, the Morrowind is not a heathen den of demon worshippers.
Lakelos Char, Steam Gate Quarter, Vivec:
The Daedra are powerful ancestor spirits, similar to the Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names), but weaker and more capricious. In the olden times, before the Advent of the Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names), the Daedra were worshipped as gods by the Chimer, but were undeserving of this veneration, as they harmed their followers as often as they helped them.
The Advent of the Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names) changed all this. By the Apotheosis, the Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names) became the Protectors and High Ancestor Spirits of the Dunmer, and bade the Daedric spirits give proper veneration and obedience. The Three Good Daedra, [Boethiah, Azura, Mephala], recognized the Divinity of the Triune Ancestors (Blessed Be Their Holy Names), and made obeisance to them. The Rebel Daedra [Molag Bal, Malacath, Sheogorath, Mehrunes Dagon], in their arrogance and pride, refused to swear fealty to the Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names), and were cast out of Morrowind forthwith.
These Rebel Daedra thus became the Four Corners of the House of Troubles, and they continue to plague our tranquility and tempt the unwary into Heresy and Dark Worship. The Tribunal (Blessed Be Their Holy Names) and their servants, the Priests of the Temple, remain ever-vigilant for signs of the Adversaries' return, aided by the loyal Three Good Daedra, who are especially familiar with the wiles of their rebellious kin.
I've heard rumors of a city somewhere in southern Morrowind, that the people call Sotha Sil, like the God of the Tribunal. What can you tell me of this city?
Marcus Richton, Colovian Naval Officer, Velothis Haven:
Sotha Sil is a sacred site, but not a site of pilgrimage, I hear. It is a holy place equal to Vivec and Almalexia, but unlike those locations, Sotha Sil is not a population center, and it is in a remote part of the exceedingly unpleasant southwest highland wilderness. Imperial Citizens love to visit beautiful Vivec with its steam-parks, canals, and monuments, and even though Almalexians are not at all cordial or encouraging to visitors, the city is rather grand, in a vast, sprawling, sordid way. But I've never heard anyone, Dunmer or outsider, express an interest in visiting Sotha Sil.
Some of the scholars of the land speak of the "Brass God", however in all my travels through Tamriel I have heard little on this subject. What can you tell me of this?
Xal, a Human Maruhkati, Port Telvanis:
Ah. I will tell you the truth, because you will believe none of it. The Brass God is Anumidum, the Prime Gestalt. He is also called the divine skin. He was meant to be used many times by our kind to transcend the Gray Maybe.
The first to see him was the Shop Foremer, Kagrenac of Vvardenfell, the wisest of the tonal architects [Mechanists- MN] Do not think as others do that Kagrenac created the Anumidum for petty motivations, such as a refutation of the gods. Kagrenac was devoted to his people, and the Dwarves, despite what you may have read, were a pious lot-he would not have sacrificed so many of their golden souls to create Anumidum's metal body if it were all in the name of grand theater. Kagrenac had even built the tools needed to construct a Mantella, the Crux of Transcendence. But, by then, and for a long time coming, the Doom of the Dwarves marched upon the Mountain and they were removed from this world.
The second to see the Brass God was the Enantiomorph. You may know them individually as Zurin Arctus and Talos. The Oversoul was known to the world as Tiber Septim They gave birth to their Mantella, this time an embodiment of the healing of the Man/Mer schism, and, with it, Anumidum Walked. But, by then, and for a long time coming, One betrayed the Other, and the world shuddered as they split, and the Anumidum went berserk and created an Empire of Evil to house the malignant half of its soul.
And what of the Warp in the West, where it is said six Anumiduma were seen in six different places at once, each one carving out a different mortal's destiny? We could see that High Rock is unified no more, that the flags of Nova Orsinium are real, that the Sload Priests talk to their new God of Worms, and none of them serve the sick heir of the Septim line; we could see all this and know that it is true. This Warp is but a realization of the trap that is the Gray Maybe, and that champion of release, the Brass God, has but reminded us again what the failure of his misuse means in the Arena Mundus.
Are there any other major religions in Morrowind besides the Tribunal?
Veneration of the Eight Divines and Tiberius Imperator has gained some local acceptance, particularly among House Hlaalu, but the Tribunal Temple is and always has been the one and only state religion of Morrowind.
Several people speak in hushed tones of an assassins guild, known as the Morag Tong. I have learned that the many of the Great Houses use this guild to eliminate enemies, even though the Tong is forbidden by the Tribunal. How can such a guild operate, and exactly how much influence do they have over Morrowind?
Paulus Hlaalu, Sub-Vizier of the Theoretical Dignity Club, Narsis:
No my friend, you are confused. The Morag Tong is not forbidden by the Tribunal. That would be a fine mess! How then would the Houses play out the Great Game? The Morag Tong is a tool in the hands of the Great Houses, in the unending competition for honor, glory and power. As long as the Tong (and the Houses) follow the Mephala Entente [Code of Peace- MN] laid down in ancient times, anyone may be marked, from the High Hlaalu himself to the lowliest Telvani serf. The consequences of marking are the realm of the Great Game -- it has been many years since anyone dared set the Tong onto Hlaalu kin. Today the Game is mostly played out between the various client houses. And of course non-Dunmer are forbidden to hire or to be marked; some say that Tiber Septim himself negotiated this arrangement with the Morag Tong at the time of the Armistice.
Which of the Great Houses in Morrowind holds the most power, and how do they use this power? I've heard that the Indoril is the largest, but I'm not sure how much truth there is in that.
In the conservative south, the Indoril parties and the Temple still have a lot of influence in the Councils, but up north, Imperial influence is strong, and Hlaalu family and retainers control most of the wealth and political power. Of course, within their own territories, each of the five Great Houses rule their local councils - but the power of Hlaalu and Imperial coin is very influential.
The glory of the Indoril is long in the past. They once used their control of the Tribunal priesthood to dominate the other Houses, but their hegemony was overthrown during the Armistice, never to recover. House Hlaalu, of which I am blood kin, of the Seventh Family, of direct descent from Hlaalu Brevur (May We Seek Forever the Seyda Neen), now has undisputed mastery of the other four Houses. The day when Hlaalu is acknowleged as the only remaining Great House can now be foreseen with some assurance.
I attempted to meet with the Telvani in the northeast, but they avoided me well. Why do they try to avoid contact with others? Do they have some secret practices that they do not want outsiders to know of?
The Telvani don't welcome visitors. My business contacts there are mostly outsiders - Hlaalu and Citizens in the foreign districts of port centers. Their townfolk are formal and humorless. But if you mean the High Telvani wizards, the so-called Parliament of Bugs- yes, it is impossible for outsiders to meet with their wizards. They all deal through servants, slaves, and agents, local or foreign-trained. As for secret practices, I'm sure the wizards have plenty of secret practices, and I have no desire to interfere in their affairs - but the common folk don't seem secretive so much as very private and very hostile to foreigners.
What happened to the 6th major Great House of Morrowind? I have been told that long ago, there were 6 major clans, however now people only tell me of 5.
Hasphat Antabolis, Scholar in Residence to House Hlaalu, Balmora:
The lost clan is House Dagoth, who perished to a man during the Dwemeri War [First Era- MN]. Dagoth's ancient homeland was swallowed up by Vvardenfell, and little is now known of them beyond their name and their legendary last Clanstead, Dagoth Ur. Recent excavations of some of the few known Dwemeri sites have also produced artifacts bearing the clan markings of Dagoth, indicating that Dunmer and Dwemer once mingled within the same communities, a finding that has met with furious denial by many of my less open-minded countrymen.
How are the Dwarves involved in Morrowind's history, and do any still exist today? I have heard rumors that the Great City of Almalexia was built over Dwarven ruins, although many I talked to denied this. It seems as though the Dwarves have entirely disappeared from this land. Would it be possible to find any Dwarven settlements somewhere in Morrowind and, if so, where would I be most likely to find them?
I've heard of Dwarven sites in the northern highlands, but I've never visited one. Some visit them while on pilgrimages to Vvardenfell, I believe, though I'm no expert on sacred sites. Sightings of Dwarves are part of the local folklore, but I've never heard an educated person give them any credence.
What influence did Tiber Septim have on Morrowind in the past? All I know is that at one time he was interested in Dwarven artifacts, but I do not know why.
Yul Marshee, Dealer in Antiquities, Specializing in Dwarven Collectibles and Relics of Other Lost Peoples, Pelagriad:
If you want Dwarven artifacts, you've come to the right place. Morrowind was once the homeland of the Dwarves, did you know that? Yes, until the volcano erupted and wiped them out, vast underground cities and all. Tiber Septim was no fool, you know. The Dwarves crafted vast mechanical contraptions the likes of which you've never even imagined, and the First Emperor needed all the help he could get. You don't suppose the High Elves just rolled over and played dead for him, do you? Numidium was the prize of all Dwarven war machines, ferreted out by the Blades, they say, and rebuilt in the laboratories of the Battlemages of Cyrodiil. Who knows what else the Blades found? Who knows what other artifacts they might have stashed away? Right here is one fine example, from the very treasure chamber of the Blades themselves -- I have my sources-- and it can be yours for a very reasonable price. You'll need these goggles to actually see it....
dro'Mhakij, "Prophet of Rajhin," a Khajiit sugar addict outside of Yul's shop:
Jodenjone! Don' let Marshee lie to you about Big Walker. The Blades took It from here, sure, but they din' take It back to Cyrodiil and rebuild the thing. Talos, he "annexed" a swath of our bounty-land in Ana'quinal and cleared the Khajiiti out by force. There's where he built the Hall of Colossus—a mighty name for a secret testing warehouse—and that's where Big Walker was born. And that's why that part of our Elsweyr is still poisoned glow-rock, where no cats go. Ach, for the lunacy of you Wayward Folk!
At one time I quested to find a dragon, but I was unsuccessful. Do they exist anywhere in Morrowind?
Hlaalu Manhandled, Imperial Governor of the Balmora District, Caldera:
Dragon? In the Morrowind? Not anymore, my boy; the Skylamps ate them all..!
Finally, who do you think is the most important person in Morrowind? Who holds the most influence over the province?
Khajiit I met in a tavern in the Foreign Quarter of Narsis -- he never identified himself, but for some reason his words stuck in my mind and seemed truer than the answers given by the many Imperial officials and Dunmeri grandees I interviewed:
Let me tell you who it's not. It's not the Imperial Proconsul here in Narsis. See, he's so unimportant I don't even remember his name. He may think he runs the province, but he's out of touch with what's really going on. Must be. Morrowind's too big and strange and secretive for any one man to really control it. Maybe one of the Governors? Or, better, a military officer, the commander of the legions perhaps? Nah. First, the Army is divided. Supposedly the local commander reports to the governor, right? But the Army has never liked being under a civilian, and lately its gotten worse. Much worse. You'd be surprised what's going on out in the districts. Then add the Red Templars to the mix. Theoretically tied into the chain of command, right? But they don't really take orders from anybody but themselves. So, you say, the Imperials are a mess, just like everywhere else. Maybe one of the locals, the High Hlaalu? Or maybe you're clever and choose his Vizier instead. Now you're getting closer, but how much do even the Hlaalu know about what's really going on? This place is going to bloody hell, friend, and no one even knows it. And the few of us who do know, what can we do about it anyway? The old tricks won't work this time. We're trying to hold back the sand. Ah, it's all going to hell.