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The Races of TESO: Dunmer
by Merari, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
With The Elder Scrolls Online approximately one year away from release, TESOF has decided to educate fans of the game on the playable races in TESO, so you can have a good idea of their backgrounds before you dive into the game. Today we'll be starting off with the Dark Elves.
Keep an eye peeled on the Articles section for more articles related to the races of TESO!
The Dunmer, or dark elves, are a race who's homeland is the province of Morrowind.
They are an ashen-skinned people with a hint of blue and have red eyes. 'Dark' in this case should not be taken to mean 'evil', rather it may refer to their dark skin, their sombre nature, or perhaps the curse that gave them their current appearance. More on that later.
Dunmer are a proud people with a distrust for foreigners and their prowess on the battlefield is not to be underestimated. Strong, clever and agile, they make fierce warriors and sorcerers. While they may seem callous and cruel to outsiders, the Dunmer are proud and value honour and their ancestors above all else. There is little they will not do to protect their families.
Young female Dunmer are notoriously promiscuous.
History of the Dunmer
Originally, like all elves, the Dunmer used to be Aldmer. However, in the late Merethic or elven era the mystic Veloth felt the Aldmeri culture had become decadent. He advocated a different philosophy and led his people away from the Summerset Isles in order to find the promised land of his visions.
These people were called the Chimer, or changed folk, and their travels led them to what now is known as Morrowind but in that time was named Dwemereth, home of the Dwemer; an elven race that had separated from the Aldmer earlier. Veloth named this land Resdayn.
Veloth, now known as saint Veloth, taught his people the difference between the good and bad Daedra. His influence won the 'good' Daedra (Azura, Boethiah, Mephala) for his people and his teachings detailed how the 'bad' Daedra should be handled carefully. Veloth's teachings advocated ancestor worship above all else and that the god-ancestor of all Chimer was Boethiah.
Boethiah gave gifts of civilisation to the Chimer, among which were philosophy, law, magic and responsible architecture. Azura honored the Chimer by sending their great warriors and leaders gifts of knowledge and magical artifacts. Mephala taught the secrets of lies, sex and murder and helped found the assassins cult of the Morag Tong, or foresters guild.
It was not long before the new arrivals clashed with the original
inhabitants, the Dwemer. Wars were fought over land and religion. However, during the early first era an enemy came unto the land that they could unite against. Around 1E240 the Nord High King Vrage invaded Dwemereth/Resdayn. The Dwemer king, Dumac, and Chimer lord Indoril Nerevar forged an alliance to repel them. This led to the foundation of the First Council of Resdayn in 1E416, led by Nerevar and Dumac.
Dwemer clan Rourken opposed allying themselves with outsiders and chose exile. They left Resdayn for what is now Skyrim and Hammerfell.
The alliance between the Dwemer and Chimer was not to last. Dwemer were staunch atheists while Chimer pious Daedra worshipers and so when the Dwemer found the Heart of Lorkhan, a very powerful magical artifact, under Red Mountain there was disagreement on what should be done with it.
The chief tonal architect (engineer) of the Dwemer, lord Kagrenac, constructed what is known as Kagrenac's Tools, enchanted to harness the power of the Heart.
For the Chimer this was an unacceptable blasphemy and the War of the First Council broke out in 1E688 after Nerevar learned from Azura that these tales were indeed true. Azura bestowed on him the Moon-and-Star, a magical ring only he could wear that granted him great powers of persuasion.
Lord Indoril Nerevar united the Chimer great houses and nomadic tribes under his banner and became known as the Hortator (war leader).
Numidium, TES3 artworkMeanwhile the Dwemer were constructing a golem meant to be powered by the Heart to become a living god. It came to a head at the Battle of Red Mountain. With the troops of Nerevar about to breach the Dwemer stronghold that kept the Heart and the golem Numidium, Kagrenac made a last-ditch effort to save his people. He struck the Heart with the Tools he had crafted... and all Dwemer dissapeared from the face of Tamriel, never to be seen again.
There are many differing and conflicting accounts on what exactly happened next, but they all agree that Nerevar's trusted High Councillor, Voryn Dagoth, advocated the Tools should be destroyed. Nerevar left his friend to guard the Tools and Heart while he sought the council of his Tribunal, Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil.
They concluded that the Tools should be preserved but never used and returned to Red Mountain.
Some say Dagoth had been enthralled by the power of the Heart, siphoned some of it into himself, and refused to give it or the Tools up.
Some say the Tribunal murdered Nerevar and Dagoth fought them to avenge his friend.
The Tribunal then defeated Dagoth Ur and he was thought to have been killed. House Dagoth was disbanded and its members assimilated into other houses.
Nerevar was dead.
Much later it became known that Dagoth was merely sleeping under Red Mountain, siphoning power off the Heart.
The Tribunal ignored Nerevar's dying wish and decided to use the Tools and Heart to ascend themselves unto godhood. This greatly angered Azura.
She appeared unto the newly ascended Triune and spoke:
"What you have done here today is foul beyond measure and you will grow to regret it, for the lives of gods are not what mortals think and matters that weigh only years to mortals weigh on gods forever."
Thus Azura cursed all the Velothi Chimer, who then became Dunmer.
"Let this mark remind you of your true selves who, like ghouls, fed on the nobility, heroism, and trust of their king."
Resdayn became known as Morrowind. The Tribunal went on to become living gods and took over the role that the good Daedra had in their culture beforehand. Boethiah became the anticipation of Almalexia, Mephala the anticipation of Vivec and Azura that of Sotha Sil. The Tribunal guides and protects their Dunmer people but deal harshly with heresy.
Just before the time period that The Elder Scrolls Online is set in, Vivec repelled an Akaviri invasion of Morrowind by teaching his people the magic of waterbreathing and submerging the island of Vvardenfell.
The Great Houses and Ashlanders
The Dunmer people are roughly divided into two distinct groups.
The nomadic Ashlanders who follow the old ways and do not acknowledge the Tribunal and the settled Dunmer, organised into houses that grew from their tribes. There are a few Great Houses and several lesser ones.
Kagouti, native animal as seen in TES3
Until the formation of the First Council the Ashlanders were much like their Dunmer cousins who resided in permanent settlements.
However they have never accepted the divine Tribunal and since the formation of the Great Houses have been slowly but surely displaced into the most inhospitable areas.
Ashlanders are nomadic and travel with their herds to suitable hunting grounds where they build temporary seasonal camps.
Most of their resources, food, building materials, weapons and armour come from the local wildlife.
The Ashlanders are xenophobic and hostile towards outsiders.
Their sense of honour does permit them to adopt an outsider who has aided them into their clan as a clanfriend.
The Indoril are conservative and pious followers of the Tribunal Temple.
Indoril district consists of the Morrowind mainland south of the Inner Sea and the eastern coast and contains the city of Almalexia.
A large section of Ordinators and other Temple guards and enforcers hail from house Indoril.
They are openly hostile to outside influence and the fiercest supporters of traditional Temple doctrine.
House Dres is largely an agricultural house. Its holdings are in the south of Morrowind, bordering Black Marsh.
Their large plantations rely almost solely on slaves as a work force.
As such they vehemently oppose any cultural influence that objects to their practices. Especially the races of man tend to view unbridled slavery as undesirable.
A trading house, Hlaalu has tradionally been the most open to influence from foreign cultures. They aspire to live in peace with other nations, as this is good for business. While supporters of the Tribunal Temple, they are the most open to other beliefs and ideas. Their holdings lie in the south-west of Morrowind
The west of Morrowind is Redoran land. A militaristic house, the Redoran prize honour, piety, gravity and duty above all else.
"Duty is to one's own honor, and to one's family and clan. Gravity is the essential seriousness of life. Life is hard, and events must be judged, endured, and reflected upon with due care and earnestness. Piety is respect for the gods, and the virtues they represent. A light, careless life is not worth living."
Isolationist, eccentric, ambitious. Telvanni is a house of mage-lords who each rule their demesne more or less as an independant city-state.
While their capital Telvannis in the east of Morrowind houses the archmagister and council, most mage-lords would scoff at the notion that anyone could stand above them, let alone lay down the law.
Apart from house Dres they are the staunchest supporters of slavery.
As an example of their general attitude, house rules state that if a Telvanni steals from a Telvanni and lives, he clearly deserves to keep what he stole as he displayed superior prowess. Advancement in the house is often settled in a duel to the death with the current holder of the aspired title.
MorrowindMorrowind is the north-east most province of Tamriel and dominated by the Red Mountain, a gigantic volcano.
In fact, the entire central island of Vvardenfell is the raised centre of a great caldera caused by an eruption of Red Mountain. The Inner Sea separating Vvardenfell from mainland Morrowind is the inside rim of that crater.
Legend has it that Red Mountain was created when the Aedra punished Lorkhan for his deception. They tore out his heart and flung it across Tamriel. Where it landed, Red Mountain erupted for the first time.
The land of Morrowind is heavily affected by constant ash storms emanating from Red Mountain. The magical ash salts in these storms have caused adaptations and mutations in the native plant and animal life, which causes Morrowind to possess a unique flora and fauna that can survive nowhere else.
Especially the nomadic Ashlander tribes of Dunmer have tamed native beasts to serve as beasts of burden, mounts and a source of food and building materials for their dwellings, weapons and the traditional armour of the Ashlanders.
The island of Vvardenfell has become a temple preserve and is normally not open to outsiders.
2012 Written by Merari, with acknowledgments to Deveron and Tecca for editing, formatting and images.
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