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Daedric Alphabet

Author: 
Qwerty
Ayem Ayem Bedt Bedt Cess Cess Doht Doht
Ekem Ekem Hefhed Hefhed Geth Geth Hekem Hekem
Iya Iya Jeb Jeb Koht Koht Lyr Lyr
Meht Meht Neht Neht Oht Oht Payem Payem
Quam Quam Roht Roht Seht Seht Tayem Tayem
Yoodt Yoodt Vehk Vehk Web Web Xayah Xayah
Yahkem Yahkem Zyr Zyr

History

This set of letters has first appeared in TESL: Battlespire, circa 1997. In Battlespire, it was a major gameplay feature and possibly a copy protection device, too. Since the celestial academy of Battlespire was taken over by Daedra, the font was dubbed "Daedric" in the Battlespire manual. However, in TES: Morrowind this font is widely used throughout the game by locals (Dark Elves, that is) - it's not exclusively Daedric anymore. In TESA: Redguard there was (to my knowledge) only one instance of Daedric usage, in the spellbook in N'Gasta the necromancer's laboratory.

The Daedric font for Windows (in TrueType format) was put together by Scribe of Black Marsh. This font is also available on the Morrowind CD, and on numerous Morrowind sites as well.

Download the Daedric font

Another set of fonts for this script has been composed recently by a fan called Dongle, and it's called "Oblivion". It comes in several versions, features the "X" and "Y" letter, and contains punctuation marks, unlike the "Daedric" font.

Download the Oblivion font pack in TrueType format
Download the Oblivion Script font pack in TrueType format
View the Oblivion font pack readme file
Visit Dongle's page

Pronunciation

Despite fancy letter names, the writings in this script should be pronounced as if the letters were Latin and the writing was in English. For example, the word "Doht-Oht-Geth" means "dog" and not "dohtohtgeht". I'm making this clear because I did receive an e-mail from a confused fan once.

The pattern for the letter names might have been inspired by the letter names in the Hebrew alphabet.

It's not "Daedric language"

While the letters looks strange and outlandish, they are used to write down plain English words. The language remains the same, no matter what the font is.

It's not "Daedric runes"

Real runes were designed by nations who had no knowledge of paper. They were meant to be carved on stone or wood, not written. As a result, the runes:

  • had to contain only straight lines - no curves, no loops
  • contained no horizontal lines, so that the wood is not split accidentally while carving
  • had small number of strokes.

It's pretty apparent that the Daedric alphabet fits neither requirement.

It might be worth noting that Prof. Tolkien's Cirth (and Angerthas) follows these rules precisely. See the inscription on Balin's tomb in "The Fellowship of the Ring" for an example.

Vehk, Ayem and Seht?

Exactly. The three alternative names of the Three Tribunes of Morrowind, as found in Lessons of Vivec and elsewhere are, in fact, their mere initials.

The "XY" saga

The story is complicated here. The Battlespire manual didn't have these two letters. The "Daedric Runes" font, consequently, did not feature these two either. In the initial version of this very page, "X" and "Y" were omitted as well, with an appropriate disclaimer. Ken Rolston of Bethesda once said: "The missing 'x' and 'y' were, I think, a mistake we decided to perpetuate."

Bethesda's internal version of the Daedric font contains both "X" and "Y", apparently. It's just that they've decided to include the fan-made font on the Morrowind CD instead. No one knows if the internal font will ever be released as it is. After some research, Qwerty (and not only him) have divined the look of "Y" from the game, from the banner that hangs outside the tower of Tel Fyr:

Tel Fyr banner

To the best of my knowledge, there are no instances of "X" usage in either of the Elder Scrolls games.

Help came from Gary "GT" Noonan of Bethesda. He sent Dongle the Fontwright an image with the whole Daedric alphabet, X and Y included. There was one little issue though. The alphabet was somewhat incompatible with the version of the letters that was formerly deemed official. For example, the new "D" was a mirror image of the old one, "H" lacked a prominent stroke on the right, "J" was a mirror image, too, and lacked its flat top, and the letter "Y" looked nowhere like the one on the Tel Fyr banner. Despite these discrepancies, Dongle went ahead and updated his "Oblivion" font with the newfound "X", and Tel Fyr version of "Y". This is what we feature here, in the chart above.

We tried to contact Dongle with this issue, and here his reply:


"Yep, I did all those changes on purpose.

For my original Oblivion I based it solely off the banners in Vvardenfell. You may consider it a regional writing style, if you like. One of the devs even explained it as such. In Morrowind it's a publicly known lettering style, vs the secret cipher used in Battlespire. Adam Pyle's font was based on the cipher, mine's based on the Vvardenfell style. Note that neither are related to the Daedra Princes, so calling it Daedric is probably just tradition.

I literally spent weeks collecting every banner texture, or anything I could find with lettering, from the game CD. The letters "D" and "J" on the island of Vvardenfell are always a mirror image of the Battlespire ones. "H" is always missing that middle extension, "U" is always more rounded at the bottom. I reproduced that faithfully in my font.

Here's a couple of banners to illustrate what I mean:

Vvardenfell letter variations

Those four letters are consistently that same shape for every banner I found. Multiple examples of each.

The "Y" in Oblivion is an exact match for the Tel Fyr banner. It also appears several places in Vivec, and once in Mournhold.

Now, Oblivion Script is a very different style. It's much more slanted, and hand-drawn looking. But, "D, J, H, & U" have the same elements I describe above. That backs up my decision to go with those shapes. I have no clue what lettering style this is, it's not used in-game anywhere at all. I decided to simply reproduce WormGod's graphic exactly, as it's the only complete alphabet we've ever seen.

Original graphic, as sent from WormGod:
« click here »

Alphabet comparison:
« click here »

The "Y" is very different than the "Tel Fyr" one in Wormgod's graphic, and so it is in Oblivion Script too. The original Oblivion remained the "Fyr" style.

Since we've only ever seen one "X" I'm using that in both the Oblivions. If we learn more I can do an update. It may or may not be the correct Vvardefell "X", but if that offends anyone's sensibilities they can simply refrain from typing one."


Interesting don't you think so? Many thanks to Dongle for everything that he has given to the Elder Scrolls community. And the name of "X" and "Y" which are Xayah and Yahkem respectively, are easily found in the Battlespire TXT.BSA. As far as I know, all the text in the Battlespire are archieved in the TXT.BSA. For sure this file holds many secrets.