A Brief History of House Telvanni

Released In:
Author (in-game): Anonymous

A report created by the scholar Andunririe for the Court of Proxy-Queen Alwinarwe, Alinor.

Greetings to the Majesty of the Court,

I have been tasked by Penewen, mage and advisor to the Aldmeri Dominion, to help explain and summarize the society of our cousins the Dunmer, also known as the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves are broken into Houses, all of whom have their own internal social organizations. This report will deal primarily with the Telvanni, who are the most magically powerful and the most socially stratified of the Great Houses. What follows is a brief history of House Telvanni.

The Telvanni are one of the Great Houses of the Dark Elves, descendants of the Chimer peoples. The Chimer were an offshoot of our ancestral Aldmeri. They fled our lands under the leadership of the Rebel Prophet Veloth* and settled in the northwest of the continent, in lands now called Morrowind. The Telvanni of that age and stood against the Dwarves and House Dreloth as a member of the First Council. It also suffered the transformation that all Dunmer experienced in the Battle of Red Mountain.

In the wake of the Battle of Red Mountain, the triumphant Dark Elf households dominated Morrowind, with Telvanni one of the foremost among them. However, this period also marked the rise of the Tribunal—three Dark Elf leaders who claimed they had ascended to divinity and founded their own religion. While these “Living Gods” are respected by all the Dark Elves, House Telvanni is more agnostic than the other houses. None of the upstart Tribunal were members of House Telvanni, and this may account for their reticence to join the other houses in abject veneration of the Three.

During the War of the First Council, the Telvanni provided superior wizards and deadly magical attacks to the battlefield, and this is where the true power of the Telvanni lies. The house motto is “The forceful expression of will gives true honor to the Ancestors.” This forceful expression usually means magic: their leaders are powerful spellcasters, and their ruling council consists of the best of their mages. Each mage seeks to prove themself superior to others. They guard their arcane knowledge and creations from their rivals—and they consider all other Telvanni to be their rivals. As a result, Telvanni tend to be reclusive and isolationist to the extreme.

The Telvanni veneration of ancestors as opposed to the organized Temple has been a benefit to the city of Necrom, on the eastern coast of their peninsula. Legendarily built on the site of Vivec’s defeat of a great monster, it has become a mazework of underground crypts and columbarians, and their Keepers of the Dead maintain and administer to these tombs. Dark Elves of every house make pilgrimages to the city to inter or to reflect on their predecessors. The Telvanni benefit from these visitors by keeping in contact with the other Great Houses, as Necrom has become a cosmopolitan metropolis.

The history of the Telvanni is marked by famous (or infamous) wizards—Vorlys the Immolent, Divayth Fyr, Alnas Tenim, Daroder the Mad, and the current Archmagister Nelos are but a few examples. Their history includes a scattering of internal rivalries and intra-House conflicts. They cooperate with the other Great Houses with reluctance, the more so since refusing to join the Ebonheart Pact. While House Telvanni sent troops and spellcasters to help defeat the Kamal snow demons at the battle of Vivec’s Antlers, they did so grudgingly and in small numbers. When they need military assistance, they tend to hire mercenaries and adventurers.

While House Telvanni is powerful in the Vvardenfell region, their isolationist nature has encouraged many of the members to establish households in more remote areas, away from the other houses. Much of their power is centered in Vvardenfell and the eastern reaches of Morrowind. As a result, the peninsula that bears their name is dotted with small estates, usually under the control of a senior member of the house, who in turn is usually a powerful spellcaster. The caste system of the Telvanni demands loyalty and enforces traditional values among the populace.

Important among these values is slave-holding, and the primary reason the Telvanni did not join their Dark Elf cousins in the Ebonheart Pact. To do so would mean to recognize the reptilian Argonians as equals, and free those Argonian slaves in their thrall. As a result, the Telvanni have become even more isolated from the other Dark Elves.

House Telvanni, for all its magical power, is in my opinion a weak link among the Dark Elves. It lacks the unity of the other houses, its nature is more isolationist, and it has refused to join the Ebonheart Pact. As a result, powerful individuals may be approached and turned away from their traditional loyalties and serve as agents and allies in future confrontations. Individual pride and magical greed can overwhelm even the most stalwart among them, and they could be picked apart one-by-one.

Scroll to Top