A Brief Treatise on the Dwemer
Yo, can I just take a moment to talk about one of my favorite fantasy races ever written? The Dwemer, aka the Dwarves of The Elder Scrolls series.
When you think of a dwarf, what do you think? Short, stocky, bearded men who are fierce drinkers, warriors, and engineers. Now throw all of that shit out except the engineering and beards — Dwemer had HELLA beards. Why were they called Dwarves? Because they lived in lands inhabited by fucking giants, so of course they would earn the nickname “dwarves” by comparison. They were actually pretty damn tall even compared to the average elf.
But that’s not very important. What is important is their religion, or whatever you call their insane anti-religion.
Take a minute and think of the most obnoxious, loud-mouthed, self-righteous atheist you’ve ever met, or even could theoretically exist. The kind of person who says ‘Oh my science’ instead of ‘Oh my God,’ and regularly brags about how he’s an independent free-thinker who doesn’t take orders from 2,000 year-old books. Got it? Good.
Now imagine an entire country full of people exactly like that. Enter the Dwemer.
Among all the civilizations in their world, the Dwemer were the first people to uncover and understand the fundamental laws of physics, and they were massively, enormously snooty about it. To the Dwemer, logic and rationality weren’t just a means to an end, they were THE END. Mathematics, physics, and logic were the basis of absolutely everything that existed, and anything that did not follow the laws of rationality simply was not real — at best an illusion, at worst a delusion. Obviously this meant that there could be no gods for the Dwemer. They were perfectly atheistic.
Except for one problem: Gods existed, they played an active and visible role in the universe, and the Dwemer had just dug up the still-beating heart of one of them. What’s a good scientist to do when he discovers overwhelming evidence in opposition to his theories?
Why, he denies the existence of reality itself, of course! Yes, the Dwemer, when confronted with the fact that the universe may not be as mechanistically and mathematically perfect as they thought it should be, collectively decided that the entire universe was an illusion, a dream concocted by a blind-idiot-super-god, and that their new goal should be to break free of the dream entirely so they could create their own universe of perfect logic and rationality.
All of this could have been fine. They could have been the world’s kooky neighbor, always saying that one day he’s gonna build a rocket ship and blast off, straight to the moon! Except for that still-beating heart of a god I mentioned earlier. They stumbled onto a Saturn V rocket engine.
What can you do with the heart of a god? Literally anything. What did the Dwemer do with it? They built a giant robot. A giant robot designed to rip a hole in space and time and create a new universe for the Dwemer to live in. That was the plan of course. When their neighbors found out, however, they weren’t too happy. Launching a Saturn V rocket in their backyard would really bring down the property values. So they went to war with the Dwemer, and when it was clear the Dwemer weren’t going to win, the Dwemer decided to just wing it, whacked the giant robot’s heart a few times, and hoped it would just work.
And it did! Kind of. For a minute there. Until it didn’t. And then it really didn’t.
Because in that exact instant, every Dwarf in the universe disappeared. Poof. Gone. No one knows what happened to them. No one CAN know what happened to them because they were totally removed from existence. The laws of conservation of mass, energy, information? Forget that shit. DWEMER ARE GONE. Well, except for one, but he was the metaphysical equivalent of that guy at a party who spends like twenty minutes taking a piss only to walk out and find the cops showed up.
So what about that giant robot? Giant robot’s still there. Giant robot ain’t going nowhere baby. It’s still got its heart, it’s still ready to go. No one knows what to do with it. The heart alone is so powerful that a couple kings are murdered over it, and at the end of the day three elves from the province of Morrowind use it to become demi-gods themselves, and they establish a theocracy that lasts for over four thousand years.
Eventually a man named Tiber Septim comes along. You may have heard of him. His friends call him Talos. He’s not a god yet, but he wants to be, so he takes his manly fucking army and marches it up to the elven kingdom of Morrowind and says, “Hey! I heard you guys got gods. Can I get in on that shit?” and the Tribunal responds, “Well, we can’t give you the artifact of unlimited power that turned us into gods (if we even had one because clearly we’ve all been divine this entire time and would never lie cheat and murder in order to steal the power of a more powerful god), but we have this giant robot lying around. You want a giant robot?” so Talos said “Sure!” and history was made.
Except like any deal from Craigslist, they forgot to mention that it didn’t come with batteries included, so Talos forced his army to lug around this fucking huge robot on all of their conquests because he refused to admit that he made a bad deal and should have checked that it came with the still-beating heart of a dead god BEFORE signing the lease. But then he had a bright idea, and murdered a viking ghost and/or his most trusted adviser (Sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s the other, sometimes it’s both. It’s complicated) and stuffed their soul(s) into a big ‘ol gem and used that to power the robot instead. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was just what he needed as he was getting ready to assault the elven nation of Alinor and complete his total conquest of the world.
So what exactly did the giant robot do? Well, a lot of things actually, but mostly it yelled. Really, really loudly. And it was yelling “NO.” See, no one really knew how the Dwemer were going to punch a hole in reality with their robot until now. Turns out that it’s a machine that outputs pure Skepticism. Like an internet troll, it constantly screams denials at everything around it, and through brute force alone, makes reality agree to its demands. The elves of Alinor surrendered after only an hour.
Except it wasn’t an hour, because the giant robot screamed so much that TIME ITSELF forgot that it existed, and so it continued to wage war against the elves long into the future and the past simultaneously. For the rest of their lives the elves would have to dedicate a portion of their population to go into the time-wound and fight against an unstoppable terror-machine, lest it destroy the civilization in the future, or worse–the past. (Elves never liked humans, but that little fiasco has been a bit of a diplomatic sore spot between them. Imagine if World War 2 ended, but the USA kept on nuking Japan daily, and quickly developed automated drone technology to ensure that the nukings would continue for the rest of the foreseeable future, and then developed time travel so they could start nuking them in the past too.)
After that Tiber Septim made the pretty smart decision to just dump the robot in a pit somewhere, since he had already conquered the entire continent, established the Third Empire of Man, and achieved Actual Godhood. A few hundred years later, the western provinces of the empire were in revolt as their regional king was assassinated. Dozens of factions were vying for control of the same province, and with no one of them having a better claim than another, a brutal war was sure to ensue. Except it didn’t, because one (or possibly all) of them got the idea to power up the Dwemer’s giant robot to help their cause, and just turning the goddamned thing on managed to fuck time so badly that by the end of the war, LITERALLY EVERYONE WON, with every single claimant claiming to have won decisively, but no one actually died, and everyone wound up with roughly equal shares of territory and resources. Historians collectively shrugged and wrote, “It just works.” into the record books.
The giant robot, however, had disappeared. No one knew what had happened to it, until about a thousand years later when it reappeared out of the time stream and KILLED EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD, AND THEN TORE THE PLANET APART WITH ITS BARE HANDS. LANDFALL, BITCHES.
AND THAT’S WHY THE DWEMER FUCKING RULE AND ARE THE BEST FANTASY RACE EVER. THE END.