The Elder Scrolls
The Dwemer, the “people of the deep”, are a fabled “Lost Race” of Mer from Dwemereth, which mostly consisted of modern-day Morrowind, where they are believed to have been the most prolific, though they also had a strong presence in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Skyrim. Meric races use the term “Dwemer”, which translates to “Deep-Elves” or “Deep Folk”. Men commonly refer to them as Dwarves. The early history of the Dwemer is still clouded in mystery. There is no known story of their dissociation from the Aldmer, which must have occurred very early in Tamrielic history, as their society bore few correlations with that of the Altmer besides some similar legal principles. The Dwemer built elaborate underground cities near and beneath mountain ranges, including the Velothi Mountains and Red Mountain, and in the mountains of the isle Stros M’Kai. Many misconceptions about them have abounded for centuries: scholars long thought that most Dwemer ruins which dotted Tamriel outside Morrowind were mere outposts and that there were few significant Dwemer settlements elsewhere until 1E 420. The presentation of the Dwemer in fictitious but popular novels like the Ancient Tales of the Dwemer has also lodged an inaccurate impression of them in the popular consciousness, painting them as familiar, comfortable characters very similar to humans. In reality, they are better described as having been fearsome, unfathomable, and even cruel, though also careful, intelligent, and industrious. Their society consisted of free-thinking yet reclusive clans devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and the arcane until they mysteriously disappeared around 1E 700.
The Dwemer appear to have been a highly technologically advanced and particularly dogmatic race. Others races have still not cracked the secret behind their metal. Their weapons were simple but effective; weaponsmiths relied on creating quality materials first, and merely allowed the form of those materials to flow from the method of the weapon’s use. Their mastery of steam and geothermal power through tapping into the natural lava sources under Morrowind allowed them to create airships, sentient machines, mechanical observatories, and lighting systems that continued to work for centuries without any maintenance. Most of their settlements are still inhabited by Animunculi, enchanted mechanical guardians, commonly known as “Centurions” or “Spheres”. They appear somehow linked to their place of origin, and will lose power if removed from the vicinity. This may explain why many Animunculi remain active even after so long, and supports the theory that they are strongly influenced by magic. Additionally, it appears that some Animunculi are capable of interpreting the actions of people around them – in a sense, ‘perceiving’ their intent – and responding accordingly. The Dwemer were somewhat comforted by their ability to empower lifeless fabrics into active beings, denying the organic power of the gods while at the same time transcending the mortal systems of life. This culture, often seen as sheer arrogance by others, allowed their technological capabilities to accelerate well ahead of any other race. In addition, the Dwemer also appear to have dabbled extensively and somewhat successfully in some of the more divine (or arcane) arts and sought to harness the supernatural powers of the Divines within their mechanical technology, even keeping an Elder Scroll within the massive underground complex of Blackreach in Skyrim.
Very little is known about Dwemeris, the Dwemeri language, but there have been many attempts try and translate it using Aldmeris for reference and comparison. Several different, incomplete styles of written Dwemeris appear throughout Tamriel. The glyphs found in the ruins on Stros M’Kai differ significantly from those found in Cyrodiil and Morrowind, which suggests there may have been dialects or variations across the Dwemer clans. Some of spoken Dwemeris remains in prefixes and suffixes in historic names, such as “Volen-”, meaning “hammer”, and “-Fell” meaning “city,” giving Volenfell; “City of the Hammer.”
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