Skip navigation




Perhaps one of the most storied, yet least understood legacies of the Dwemer is the lost city of Arkngthamz-Phng. The element most engrained into its mythos, the almost singular thing it's known for, is its demise. Very little is remembered about what it was or how it came to be. Even its name has been obscured by the colorful moniker "Fang Lair," a truncated adulteration of the original "Phng" paired with a suitably sinister descriptor for the home of its most infamous resident. You've undoubtedly heard some derivation of a legend retold over thousands of years, so it should suffice to say that the story of a Dragon taking roost in this formerly Dwarven city has sadly overshadowed the fascinating history that came before.

Thankfully, through my research, some aspects of this buried history can now be brought to light. My findings suggest that in the decades following the establishment of peace between the Chimer and Dwemer, Dwarves of Clan Kragen began to seek new holdings beyond Resdayn. Following the path laid out by the exiled Clan Rourken during their exodus, the Dwarves of Kragen reached what we now consider Skyrim and first established their presence in the region with the founding of Arkngthamz.

It's unclear precisely what appealed so much to the Kragen explorers that it was worth settling among the hostile Nords, but in spite of regular attacks by the warlike Men, their city flourished. So much so that it encouraged other clans to expand their own holdings to the west. This loose alliance of clans effectively established a pocket empire of four city-states that were considered unassailable. Not that the Nords stopped trying.

Perhaps it was this success, or the presence of so many nearby clans, that drove Clan Kragen to press on with their expansion west through the treacherous Dragon's Teeth Mountains, but I believe they sought to bridge their new empire with the their estranged cousins in Volenfell. Whatever the case, they broke stone for a sister city on the border of modern Hammerfell: Arkngthamz-Phng.

Despite the inhospitable terrain, there is some evidence to suggest that the Dwarves aggressively carved out this burgeoning settlement, which soon supplanted its predecessor as the seat of Clan Kragen's power. Though greatly devastated, the expansive vaults of Arkngthamz-Phng's main hall are still majestic in their scale. It's easy to see how such a vast, secluded space, rich with resources and life, would be an attractive home for a Dragon seeking more well-appointed accommodations than those chiseled out by Nords in the service of the Dragon Priesthood.

Sadly, my first expedition met unexpected resistance, forcing me to abandon the site before more significant revelations could be unearthed; however, I have no doubts that the interest garnered by this publication will see a second, more ambitious expedition come to fruition.

A Guide to Dwemer Mega-Structures

Vorinara Kleeve

By Vorinara Kleeve, Dwemer Scholar

While we know a great deal about the various forms of Dwemer animunculi, many of the larger Dwemer marvels remain a mystery. Legends of Dwemer orreries and fabrication chambers abound, but direct, first-hand scholarship remains scant. I have spent my life in search of these Dwarven mega-structures. While I've met with considerable success, there is one mechanism in particular that I am keen to find: the Dwemer Tonal Resonator.

At the height of their power, the Dwemer exhibited near total mastery of tonal forces. Even now, countless centuries later, they remain peerless in this respect. Sound, not magic, facilitated their rise to power. I am continually astounded by tonal forces' wide range of uses. The Dwemer used sound in mining, medicine, architecture - even psychology. It's the latter use that I find most intriguing. According to ancient Chimeri scholarship, the Dwemer could employ tonal forces to bend weaker minds to their will - a form of complex aural hypnosis. Luckily, the Dwarves never managed to mobilize this technology on the battlefield against our august ancestors. The scale and complexity of the devices likely made transportation nearly impossible. But they still managed to employ it on a limited scale using massive devices called Tonal Resonators.

If the legends are true, these resonators were incredibly complex architectural wonders. They stood taller than the most imposing giants, and filled cavernous chambers with pipes, dials, and pistons. When enabled, the resonators released a series of powerful tones that could alter the brainwaves of lesser mer and men - inducing deep calm and profound pleasure, or even paranoia and terror. The uses for such a device are virtually limitless. Alas, I fear that I will never see one with my own eyes. If such a power could be replicated and perfected, the children of the Tribunal could very well reign supreme in Tamriel and continents beyond.

Translation of Calcelmo's Stone

Kurt Kuhlmann

Ye sa sou meldi calne tarn va nou molagnenseli,ye trumbi nou bala.
And so it was that your people were given passage to our steam gardens, and the protections of our power. (literally “protection of our mathematics”)

Ilpen av sou meldi nagaiale as guntumnia, spantelepe-laelia arani Morae, ye sou liebali racuvane, ye nu rautane sye, ye nu hautalle nou buroi gume sou gravuloi, sa metane sye garlis.
Many of your people had perished under the roaring, snow-throated kings of Mora, and your wills were broken, and we heard you, and sent our machines against your enemies, to thereby take you under.

Frey as gandra dwemera tarcellane sou agea, ye frey as emeratis Avatheledia carelle sou anyamissi bisia silya.
Only by the grace of the Dwemer did your culture survive, and only by the fifteen-and-one tones did your new lives begin.

Nu hecta sou arcten, rias nu nemalauta ge. Nu hecta sou epegandra, rias ne nemalauta ge.
We do not desire thanks, for we do not believe in it. We do not ask for gratitude, for we do not believe in it.

Nu frey sepa sye arcta varlor denai, cullei noue staneia.
We only request you partake of the symbol of our bond, the fruit of the stones around us. [lit. “we only ask you to accept”] (literally “the fruit of our stones”)

Ye ry sou alasil auta, ry loria shanta, abagaiavoy.
And as your vision clouds, as the darkness sets in, fear not.

Malautavoy fey nou darre ye alata nou malae, asma moraga sou anyamis av sercen pado, ye gethena sou wend narilia vey emeratu sou oia bisia.
Know only our mercy and the radiance of our affection, which unbinds your bones to the earth before, and sets your final path to the music of your new eternity.

Eye of Zthenganaz


The Eye of Zthenganaz, a large gemstone mounted in a gear-like wheel, was, according to legend, crafted by the Dwarves to spy on the Orc strongholds of the early First Era. Few records or oral traditions survive concerning any conflicts or animosity between the Orsimer and the Dwemer, but the legend of the Eye contains a few hints as to what may have happened to it.

One story claims that the Orc shaman, Shlug Curse-Crafter, seized the Eye in a raid and placed a curse upon it. From that point on, if anyone used the device to gaze upon distant Orc strongholds with dishonorable intent, they would instead see grotesque visions that would drive them mad.

The Eye disappeared from history when Shlug died, somewhere in the area around the ruins of Rkindaleft.

Secret Dwemer Origins


Gods, I have seen the visions you have given me. I have embraced it wholly. I have followed it here to the cave of Revelations! I have given it the name Zthgnthaz. It is the Dwemeris acronym for time-wizard!

They LAUGHED at me WELL NO MORE. Now I have PROOF.

It all makes perfect sense. Everything in here is brass. Brass is the color of time. It is the same way forwards and backwards. When you transpose it into Aldmeris it's spelled zathaganathaz. ZTHGNTHAZ.


Zthgnthaz. Brass Time Wizard. I can hear the music right now. The notes spell out the mystery. The three alliance leaders are just puppets. Molag Bal was a distraction designed to divert our attention from the TRUTH.

I just need to find some crystals!

It's all here. All the proof I need. The Dwemer were time-visitors from the future. These ruins are impenetrable because they have not been built yet. They disappeared because something happened that caused them not to be born.

But I have discovered it, and I will set time on the right course again. I will bring them back!

Crafting Motif 15: Dwemer Style

Raynor Vanos

Kireth says I should write down what I've learned about Dwemer artisans and the styles and motifs of their lost civilization. She also says that organizing this study into an alphabetical listing of classes of relics is weird and detail-obsessive, but that's just evidence of her muddled and haphazard way of thinking.


Dwemeri axe designs reflect the wheels, gears, and cogs that are central to so many devices of the Deep Elves. The haft is surmounted by a round disk resembling the hub of a wheel, from which spokes radiate to the blade or blades, which are like portions of a wheel's outer ring. The blades maintain an edge remarkably well, considering their great age.


Dwarven belts are typically made of overlapping metal links of a repeated geometric shape, such as squares or circles. Their length is easily adjusted by the addition or subtraction of a few links. The tensile strength of such a belt is without peer, many times that of an equivalent length of steel chain.


Dwarven boots are sturdy, but not as heavy as they look. Though they have accents of Dwarven metal, they are mainly constructed of a flexible material that resembles leather, but either it is some sort of manufactured imitation, or the Dwemer had beasts with incredibly smooth and homogenous hide. Knee-high Dwarven boots often incorporate built-in greaves over the shins.


Dwarven recurved bows are powerful and can drive an arrow through an oaken board. Though they appear to made of metal, they are not; the strong yet flexible material they are made from is otherwise unknown, and cannot be duplicated by modern bowyers.


All Dwarven chest armor consists of metal plates of various sizes affixed to a leather cuirass—thin, flexible leather with a few small plates in the case of light armor, the leather becoming thicker and the plates larger and more numerous as the armor gets heavier. The plates are typically geometric in shape and ornamentation.


A Dwarven dagger typically has a broad and heavy triangular blade, as suitable for chopping as for stabbing. In fact, they resemble tools as much as they do weapons.


Dwarven gloves were always made of fine and flexible leather or pseudo-leather, reflecting their wearers' need for fine manipulation of their devices. Only the heaviest gauntlets sported metal ribs, typically tessellated splints protecting the back of the hands.


Dwarven helmets of all kinds famously cover the entire face with a face-shaped visor, curiously bisected down the center by a sort of metal keel. This keel reappears atop the helmet as a crest, which may be modest or bizarrely exaggerated. A line of Dwemer troops, all wearing helmets with identical, impassive visages, must have struck terror into the Deep Elves' enemies.


The leg protection of the Dwemer typically consisted of geometric plates or cylinders of metal, mounted on the same thick yet flexible material used for their boots. The armor was particularly thick over the knee.


Dwarven maces have heavy and blunt geometrcal heads, without flanges, spikes, or pointed finials. The two-handed maces are outweighed only by Orcish skull-crushers, and can bend and batter plate armor as if it was foil.


Dwarven shields come in many shapes, but all echo the geometric forms seen on Dwemer armor, albeit writ large. They are formed from relatively thin plates of Dwarven metal, and are much lighter and wieldier than they appear.


Dwarven shoulder pauldrons were usually made of thick and inflexible metal, mounted on cops of heavy "leather." The pauldrons of heavier armor sometimes sported metal keels echoing the crests seen atop their helmets.


Even the most elaborate Dwarven staff has a utilitarian look about it, as if it was going to be used with a paddle to draw a loaf of bread from an oven. The haft is made of some close-grained substance that looks like wood but is not, circled with rings of Dwarven metal. The finials are circular or fan-shaped, and usually modest in size.


Dwarven swords look like mere extensions of their daggers, featuring the same broad, triangular blades with both point and edge. Their cross-guards are slender to almost nonexistent, which argues that Dwemer swordplay did not rely much on thrusting.


Re-Forging the Past Questions

Kireth Vanos

December 19, 2014

“Do you know the reasoning for the straight line down the middle of the facial mask on Dwemer helms? Was this merely an aesthetic design or does it serve some functional purpose as well?” – Solus Lighthawke, Dwemer Scholar-in-Training

Kireth Vanos says, “Bilateral, and even multilateral, symmetry is such a common element in Dwemer design that it’s often hard to know when it’s functional, when it’s stylistic, or even both. In most cultures, dualism symbolizes the dual, Anuic/Padomaic nature of the aurbis, but as the Deep Elves were said to have rejected the Divines, that seems unlikely to be the explanation in their case. Of course, drawing a line down the middle of a mortal’s face instantly makes that face more intimidating, so the explanation could be as simple as that.”

“Is the Dwarven Ore we find on the surface in Tamriel not actually the metal used in creating Dwemer armor, but instead a ‘fool's’ Dwarven ore mistaken for the metal the Dwarves used to create their legendary un-rusting armor, weapons, and other assorted metal things?” ­– ICEbweaka9

Kireth Vanos says, “Common so-called ‘Dwarven Ore’ is, in fact, given that name because of its resemblance to the metal forged by the long-lost Dwemer. As a metallurgist I can tell you that while Dwarven Ore is a tough substance indeed, it’s not nearly as durable as actual metal harvested from actual Dwemer devices. That’s why forging in the Dwemer style requires actual Dwemer metal as material.”

“Good Vanos, I wonder—what initially drove you to the study of Dwemer armor?” – Razum’dara, Wayward Khajiit Scholar

Kireth Vanos says, “Something about the simple, geometric elegance of Dwemer design spoke to my inner need for structure and organization. The Deep Elves might have been unholy heretics, but by the Eight, they understood the importance of doing a thing right.”

Re-Forging The Past

Kireth Vanos

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the unmistakable hallmarks of Dwemer craftsmanship. Too small to even see the traveling merchant’s wares atop his table, my father lifted me up so I could admire the strange angles, geometric engravings, and the unusual luster of a mace and shield on display. I was captivated. Though it’s likely those first pieces I laid eyes on were reproductions, they were enough to stoke my curiosity for a lifetime.

I apprenticed under my father, a well-regarded smith, and tried again and again as my skills improved to replicate the Dwemer designs that so fascinated me. One of the major difficulties, of course, was not having much in the way of example or instruction—all I had to go on for ages were my memories. My father forbade me from searching for ruins on my own, though he did humor my passion by bringing me any book he could afford on the topic of the vanished race and their creations.

It wasn’t until I was old enough to strike out alone that I made any substantial progress. I soon discovered how right it was of my father to keep me away from Dwemer ruins in my youth. They are treacherous places even for experienced adventurers, which I was certainly not the first time I charged headfirst into one. I was a bit too confident, I’ll admit, and I never expected the spider construct that burst out of an opening in the wall as I walked by. I had no idea the ruins were still active!

I was inexperienced and untried in combat, and without my skill as a smith, I doubt I would be here to tell my story today. My armor protected me from several blows I could not deflect in time with my shield as two more spiders clanked out from the darkness, and my well-balanced mace seemed to swing itself right into them, sending tiny gears and showers of sparks flying. It was over before I knew it, and I realized that I stood among piles of still-hissing metal treasure.

Cramming everything that would fit into my pack—part of the carapace, a couple engraved legs, and an assortment of gears and springs—I carefully made my way back to the surface. The Eight smiled on me that day, because it wasn’t long before I was blinking in the sunlight, little worse for the wear than a few scratches and minor burns.

Back at the forge with my prizes, I worked day and night on a new mace. I fashioned it after one in an ancient text my father had found, using my hard-won scrap to augment the smithing process. It became apparent quickly that this was what I’d been missing the whole time! The product of that sleepless week has never been recognized as a reproduction by any scholar, smith, or relic-dealer.

Forging in the Dwemer style, as you can see, is not for the dabbler. Only a committed craftsman will have what it takes to seek out rare, ancient texts and obtain their own materials from the deadly constructs that lurk to this day in the ruins of that lost civilization. If you think you’re up to the task, I hope my story has inspired you—and if you’re not, then stay well away from those ruins!

Antecedents of Dwemer Law


(This book is a historical account of the development of Dwemer law and custom from its roots in High Elven culture.)

In short, so far as I am able to trace the order of development in the customs of the Bosmeri tribes, I believe it to have been in all ways comparable to the growth of Altmeri law. The earlier liability for slaves and animals was mainly confined to surrender. As in the Sumerset Isles, this later became compensation.

What does this matter for a study of our laws today? So far as concerns the influence of the Altmeri law upon our own, especially the Altmeri law of master and servant, the evidence of this is to be found in every judgment which has been recorded for the last five hundred years. It has been stated already that we still repeat the reasoning of the Altmeri magistrates, empty as it is, to the present day. I will quickly show how Altmeri custom can be followed into the courts of the Dwemer.

In the laws of Karndar Watch (P.D. 1180) it is said, "If one who is owned by another slays one who owns himself, the first owner must pay the associates of the slain three fine instruments and the body of the one who his owned." There are many other similar citations. The same principle is extended even to the case of a centurion by which a man is killed. "If at the common workbench, one is slain by an Animunculi, the associates of the slain may disassemble the Animunculi and take its parts within thirty days."

Consider what Dhark has mentioned concerning the rude beasts of the Tenmar forests. "If a marsh cat was killed by an Argonian, his family were in disgrace till they retaliated by killing the Argonian or another like it. Furthermore, if a marsh cat was killed by a fall from a tree, his relatives would take their revenge by toppling the tree, shattering its branches, and casting them to every part of the forest."

The Strange Case of Ragnthar

Guylaine Marilie


Ragnthar is a mystery within a mystery. Modern scholars agree: there's just no reason for Ragnthar to exist in the strange way it does. And that is about all scholars can agree upon when it comes to the strange case of the Ragnthar ruins.

Even laypeople know that the Dwemer, or Dwarves as they're more commonly known, vanished from the face of Tamriel. The reasons or cause behind their disappearance are a matter of much speculation … a subject for numerous other texts.

What is not in dispute is what they left behind: numerous ruins, some still patrolled by their unique metal constructs. Exploring a Dwarven ruin is seen in many research and adventuring circles as a rite of passage, as even the most well-trod ruin might still contain dangers. As a result, there's a large body of work on the subject of Dwemeri ruins and their eccentricities.

To be sure, there are a number of unusual finds within the ancient Dwarven holdfasts. Towering machinery, shafts that allow sunlight to reach thousands of feet below ground, roaring waterfalls powering still-active and incomprehensible machinery … there are many ruins that are stunning to the eye and the senses.

None of them match Ragnthar when it comes to stunning the mind. For you see, Ragnthar has numerous entrances spread across Tamriel. It is literally a space-out-of-space, twisted out of reality. Its physical location is actually unknown! Observations made within the site suggest it once was situated within the mountains of Hammerfell, but a precise origin point has never been determined.

What is known is that by stepping across the threshold into Ragnthar, you leave Nirn. And no one knows why.

For indeed, the greatest question posed by Ragnthar is: why? Why would the Dwemer expend the enormous amounts of magical energy required to remove a complex from known reality? I call this effort a "Temporospatial Claudication," literally a twisting of time and space.

Herein you'll find this humble scholar's numerous observations about the site. I've extensively studied the remaining constructs and machinery here, as well as made numerous suppositions about the intent of its creators. I think you'll agree, the more we learn about the site, the more there is to uncover!