Dwemer Ruins in Morrowind

Imperial Historical Society Handbook on the Excavation of Vvardenfell

Quite recently, the Imperial Historical Society has been given special dispensation to collect Dwemer artifacts to further our studies. Though most Dwemer artifacts, confiscated from illegal traders, have been given over to the Society, we require proper excavations to further historical research. This operation is primarily based in the Guild of Mages. We offer to bestow the position Chair of Dwemer Studies to any guild member who shows the most promise in this endeavor.

Through this endeavor we are now able to share some of our recent breakthroughs in Dwemer studies. Though we have few theories to offer at this point, we offer our empirical findings for peer review. The primary concern of this publication is the ruins of Vvardenfell, their locations, and the artifacts found within.

One might ask, is it against the will of the Nine Divines to know the Dwemer? Is their fate designed to teach us the consequences of Dwemeri hubris? Should we be content to let sleeping dogs lie? This has been the position of the Empire, and the Tribunal of Morrowind, for quite some time. It is not our intent to offend those sensibilities by attempting to replicate Dwemer experiments to gain profane knowledge. The intent of the Imperial Historical Society is to shed light on our darkened past. The greater our understanding of the Dwemer, the more we can say about how they went wrong. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

The ruined Dwemer citadels and fortresses lie dotted across Morrowind like great tombs, filled with horrors. Dwarven spectres haunt corridors alongside their centurions, patrolling empty halls in endless futility. Though these places will never truly be safe, we hope to clear some ruins of hidden dangers, so we may study the long lost Dwemer race without fear. We invite adventurers to apply at their nearest Guild of Mages, should they wish to aid us in this task.

This handbook discusses the elements of Dwemer architecture, its machinery, its artifacts, and includes a comprehensive catalogue of Dwemer ruins in Vvardenfell. It is important to know how to spot these ruins, what lies within, and what artifacts are significant to the Society’s studies before organizing an expedition.

Dwemer Architecture

The Dwemer were master smiths, but their stonework is equally impressive. The exterior architecture is constructed in stone, with metal pipes and round heavy doors merging seamlessly with the stonework. They were master bridge builders; these sturdy structures remain intact to this day. Dwemer ruins are recognizable by large spired towers, steam stacks, and the occasional observatory. Their observatories are domes constructed with perfectly formed metal plates, and house impressive telescopes jutting into the sky. Dwemer architecture was inherently functional, but still suggests a carefully thought out aesthetic in its grand austerity.

Though the Dwemer were not overtly fond of imagery, Dwemer statues have been found amongst the ruins. These statues depict Dwemer in long robes, bearing sword and shield, perhaps a testament to their militaristic nature. The stark geometric lines in the sculpted form suggest harshness and practicality in the Dwemer mindset. Dwemer carvings and runes don their stone and pipework. The imagery is primarily astrological, carved deep into the stonework on doors, but their runes have yet to be deciphered. Though Dwemeris bears a distant relationship to other Meric languages, many Dwemer books and inscriptions have proven untranslatable. Nevertheless, to help aid our scholars, a key to the known Dwemer alphabet is provided at the end of this book.

Dwemer ruin interiors delve deep underground, often cutting through lava lakes. The larger rooms house machinery, and smaller rooms appear to be sleeping quarters. The presence of furniture such as beds, desks, drawers, and ovens suggest they lived and worked in close proximity. The interior walls are stone, cut and smoothed from living rock like mining tunnels, but the floors are metal. Metal pipes are riveted to the walls in every room and corridor. Our excavations have proven these pipes carry steam, which serves not only to power their machines, but to heat their living spaces. Dwemer lighting is unlike anything seen in Nirn today. They eschewed candles in favor of strange glass tubes with metallic elements. We do not yet understand their inner workings, but most still function to this day.

Books of Vvardenfell: Illustration - Dwemer Alphabet
The Dwemer Alphabet

Threats Within Dwemer Ruins

It is imperative to understand the threats within Dwemer ruins before mounting an expedition. Some artifacts are cursed, so use extreme caution before touching anything. Picking up a cursed item may summon a Dwemer spectre, which throws magical attacks. These spectres can also be found roaming the halls. It is unclear how these spectres came to be. Are they the ghosts of Dwemer who died before their race disappeared? Did they wander the halls alongside their living ancestors? Or are they shadows of the Dwemer who supposedly uncreated themselves? In either case, they do not take kindly to intruders. Enchanted or silver weapons are required to defeat them. They also have the ability to reflect spells, so be prepared before throwing a fireball at them. Like other ghosts, they are also a source of ectoplasm, which is of some value to alchemists.

The greater threat comes from Dwemer centurions. Those still active will attack intruders on sight. In the next section we classify the known types of Dwemer annimunculi, and how to defend against their attacks.

Classifications of Dwemer Annimunculi

Three distinct types of Dwemer annimunculi have been found in the ruins of Morrowind. Some are still active to this day, and pose a dire threat to our excavation teams. It is not known how these creatures are powered. Some scholars believe the Dwemer harnessed the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, and that annimunculi can only function in close proximity to Red Mountain. However, the discovery of other forms of Dwemer annimunculi in Hammerfell is evidence that annimunculi may draw their power from a different source. Dwemer centurions are relentless in their task to eradicate intruders in the fortresses they were designed to protect, even in the absence of their masters. Note that though scrap metal is of use to alchemists, it has greater academic value to the Imperial Historical Society.

The Centurion Spider

This is the most common construct found in the ruins. It is the weakest of the three centurion types, so it is more likely they were used as a warning system than guards. Their primary attack is poison, expelled from a large gas bag. The gas bag rests on a metal base, attached to six hinged legs. Centurion spiders are quick, but they break easily in combat. Damaging either the gas bag or the legs will put this construct out of commission. If you can, try to damage only the legs. If the gas bag is ruptured, our research teams cannot reconstruct them.

The Centurion Sphere

This construct is the primary guard force in Dwemer fortresses. The sphere centurion has a complex gyro mechanism, enabling it to balance on top of the sphere and swiftly roll towards its target. It retracts into the sphere when idle, possibly sparing its complex mechanisms from wear when it is not needed. This construct has two arms, allowing it to carry sword and shield, and in its head, a single eye to target its enemy. Its primary attack is melee. Its defense is a lightning shield to protect it from shock damage. If faced against one of these constructs, the first mistake is to go for the eye. They can function almost as well without it, only lacking accuracy in their sword attacks. Instead, hit the gyro mechanism down the lower half of its midsection. Hitting this hard enough will cause it to fall apart at the seams. Note that our research teams have not yet had success reconstructing this centurion type. Hitting the gyro, even with magical attacks, causes irreparable damage to its delicate internal mechanisms. However, there is no other known way to stop them, and our excavation teams’ safety is our primary concern.

The Steam Centurion

This lumbering war machine can crush its enemies as slowly and steadily as a rock. Steam centurions are rarely found in the ruins, possibly because many were spent during the Battle of Red Mountain. These constructs were designed for war rather than light guard duties. Their heavy metal bodies are stabilized on two massive legs. The clank of a steam centurion approaching causes immediate instinctual fear in even the hardiest warriors. Its appearance as a towering armored warrior must have also been designed for psychological effect. They must have dominated the battlefield in their time. On top of being difficult to damage physically, these hardy constructs are also resistant to magical attacks. One of its powerful arms acts as a massive mace, able to crush even heavily armored opponents. Its other hand is unarmed, free to grapple and draw its opponent into range of its crushing blows. This creature has no magical attacks, but its physical attacks are deadly enough. Our primary advice to our excavation teams, if faced with one of these monstrosities, is run. Run out of the ruin and regroup. Do not attempt to engage this construct alone, and trust that the Guild of Fighters is always for hire.

Types of Dwemer Mechanisms

It is important for an expedition to recognize the hallmarks of Dwemer mechanisms. Please do not attempt to dismantle any large mechanical devices found in the ruins. The Imperial Historical Society prefers them intact so we may study how they function in their environment.

We are still uncertain about the purpose of most Dwemer machinery, but we do know the majority is powered by a combination of steam and magicka. Many machines are still running to this day, a testament to Dwemer engineering. They are connected by a vast series of pipes, and comprise of mighty pumps with spinning cogs, wheels, and belts. Only through continued excavation may we glean the function and purpose of these machines.

The Dwemer often dug deep into lava pools. To tap this vast resource, they favored regions close to Red Mountain. They also tapped underground water sources, as evidenced by their large and serviceable wells, and channeled them through pipes to be heated by lava. Steam pipes weave throughout the entire fortress. Dwemer machines are powered by the earth itself, an endless resource. It is a testament to Dwemer ingenuity.

The Dwemer Telescope

The telescope represents the Dwemer’s most formidable scientific achievement. This grand piece of machinery can be found in large domed observatories, of which few exist. This device once allowed the Dwemer to gaze closely at the stars along the outer edge of Oblivion, and perhaps through the sparkling pinholes to Aetherius itself. In the field of astronomy, the Dwemer excelled beyond all other races. It is a shame that the greater part of this knowledge vanished along with them. Had they not sought such knowledge to such profane ends, who knows what could have been accomplished in the eras that followed.

The Artifacts of the Dwemer

The Imperial Historical Society is in possession of the full range of Dwemer artifacts currently known to exist. We offer this full catalogue to our members, and members of the Guild of Mages currently engaged in Dwemer studies.

Everyday Objects of Dwemer Society

Dwemer Coins: once the primary currency of the Dwemer race, they have become a staple for illegal trade in Morrowind. It fetches a high value on the black market due to unscrupulous collectors. The Society’s greatest interest in Dwemer coins is in studying the alloy, which our alchemists have not yet fully determined.

Dwemer Tableware: ornately decorated bowls, goblets, mugs, and pitchers are prized by collectors, so getting our hands on them has required detective work and legal seizure. Studying these objects offers a glimmer of insight into the life of the ancient Dwemer. They represent something small and beautiful in the otherwise grandiose, austere, and forbidding Dwemer complex.

Components of Dwemer Machinery

The Dwemer Tube: still remains a mystery to our scholars. The glass tube is capped on both ends with metal. Was it a magicka container, or did it serve a hydraulic or steam powered function? What were these tubes attached to? We must obtain more, along with other key components of Dwemer machinery, to further our research.

The Dwemer Cylinder: a type of glass flask, sitting on a metal base, and capped on the top with metal. Our excavation teams have reported these cylinders are a component of Dwemer machinery. They can be found inserted in most machinery found in the ruins. We have yet to determine its exact function. We believe it either served as magicka containment or steam containment.

The Dwemer Coherer: resembles a Dwemer cylinder with two tubes protruding out the sides. Our scholars have proposed this device was used for magicka reception, transmitting magicka from another source, often across great distances, and into the mechanical device it was designed to power.

Dwemer Cogs: transfer mechanical power along a device, and are found in most moving parts of Dwemer machinery.

Dwemer Armaments

These artifacts are the most rare, but we have examples of nearly every form of weapon and armor currently known. All armaments were constructed with a rare alloy known only to the Dwemer. It is heavier than steel, and resists corrosion and wear. The same metal is used on the plating of Dwemer centurions.

Dwemer Armor: constructed from the same metal as their centurions, the Dwemer resembled their constructs in battle. A full set covers the whole body, and though it is carefully jointed to minimize gaps and seams, it allows easy movement for the wearer. It is heavy and resistant to blows by lesser metals. Their shields come in the form of a slightly elongated buckler. They are heavy, but small enough to provide better mobility of the shield arm. There is a large groove up the base of the shield, possibly designed to allow the shield barer to disarm an opponent by catching the weapon and drawing it to the side.

Dwemer Weapons: are primarilty designed for heavy melee combat. They are all heavily weighted, but have excellent balance. Among these weapons are the battle axe, claymore, halberd, mace, shortsword, spear, war axe, and warhammer. The Dwemer also constructed heavy crossbows for ranged attacks. Our researchers have enlisted the aid of the Guild of Fighters to help enlighten us on possible Dwemer fighting tactics. We plan to release a definitive paper on the subject sometime next year.

The Locations of Dwemer Ruins in Vvardenfell

Aleft: a small ruin located on the northwestern edge of the Bitter Coast. It is southeast of the small fishing village Gnaar Mok, and northwest of the Dunmer stronghold Hlomaren. It is the only Dwemer ruin found in this region. It is currently not of particular interest to the Imperial Historical Society.

Arkngthand: a large ruin that sits atop a mountain in the Molag Amur region, located east of the recently installed Moonmoth Legion Fort. On the road northeast of the fort, a sturdy Dwemer bridge leads directly to the ruin’s entrance. This ruin also has a visible observatory, so it is of considerable interest to the Imperial Historical Society.

Arkngthunch-Sturdumz: a small ruin located near the northwestern coast of the West Gash, southwest of Ald Velothi. A large Dwemer bridge leads to the entrance. This ruin is not currently under study of the Imperial Historical Society, but further investigation is pending.

Bthanchend: has been identified and sighted within the Ghostfence, near Maar Gan. Due to the inherent danger of venturing into the Red Mountain Region, there are no plans to further investigate. Though it remains tantalizingly just out of arms reach, we warn prospective expeditions not to make any attempt on this ruin.

Bthuand: rumored to be somewhere in the central northern Ashlands. The exact location is currently unknown.

Bthungthumz: a large ruin located north of Maar Gan, across the foyada that cuts across the northwestern Ashlands like a great scar. Also nearby is the Dwemer ruins of Druscashti. Attempts to enter these ruins have been largely unsuccessful, as few adventurers have returned from their depths. These ruins have been classified as highly dangerous, and should be avoided until a significantly large excavation team can be mustered.

Dagoth Ur: the famed final battleground of Lord Nerevar remains a legend. It is rumored to sit in the center of Red Mountain, but the Imperial Historical Society has no plans to uncover it. We insist that no one make any attempt to venture into the Red Mountain region under any circumstances.

Druscashti: located just north of Bthungthumz. See above entry.

Galom Daeus: located deep in the center of the Molag Amur region, west of the landmark known as Uvirith’s Grave. An observatory has also been sighted in this ruin, but the Imperial Historical Society has no plans to investigate further at this time. It is of considerable interest for future investigations however.

Mzahnch: located on a large island in the southern Azura’s Coast region, northeast of Vivec, and southwest of Molag Mar. Current reports suggest that this ruin, though accessible, is of little interest to the Imperial Historical Society. It contains few remaining artifacts, and contains little in the way of machinery.

Mzanchend: located in the heart of the Molag Amur region, northwest of Uvirith’s Grave, and northeast of Galom Daeus. This ruin is of some interest to the Imperial Historical Society, and further investigations are pending. However, we currently lack the resources to mount a full excavation in this region.

Mzuleft: a large ruin located southwest of Dagon Fel on the main island of Sheogorad. This ruin is currently under investigation by the Imperial Historical Society, and there are current plans to mount a full excavation within a few years.

Nchardahrk: located near Dagon Fel and Mzuleft. The Imperial Historical Society plans to further investigate this ruin as part of the Mzuleft excavation project.

Nchardumz: has been located in southeastern Molag Mar, at the end of a large valley along the mountains bordering the Grazelands region. It is not of any particular interest to the Imperial Historical Society.

Nchuleft: located in the Grazelands west of Tel Vos, on the mountains bordering Molag Mar. It is of some interest to the Imperial Historical Society, as it is mentioned in the book The Chronicles of Nchuleft. However, this ruin has not yet been investigated by members of the Society.

Nchuleftingth: located in Molag Mar, between Mount Kand and Uvirith’s Grave. The Imperial Historical Society is currently mounting a full expedition into this ruin, and excavation is well underway. Results are pending.

Nchurdamz: located in the eastern Azura’s Coast region, and is not to be confused with Nchardumz to the northwest. There are no current investigations into this ruin. However, reports are welcome from adventurers and prospective members of the Imperial Historical Society.

These are the current known locations of the Dwemer ruins in Vvardenfell. There are historical account of others, possibly located deep within the Red Mountain region, but there will be no Society sponsored investigations into this zone.

Books of Vvardenfell: Map – Dwemer Ruins in Vvardenfell
Dwemer ruins in Vvardenfell
Text and Illustrations by Sarah Dimento (a.k.a. Stuporstar)