Return to Index

Foreword | Essays | Disclaimer | Terminology | Credits


Hi. I'm Rotten Deadite. Welcome to the New Whirling School.

The 36 Lessons of Vivec are a series of books that appear in a game called "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind." Morrowind was released on May 2nd in 2002 for Microsoft Windows and then again later that year in June for Microsoft's Xbox console system.

While Morrowind was the third game in the Elder Scrolls series, it marked a dramatic departure from previous installments in both style and substance. While previous games were somewhat typical "sword & sorcery" fantasy fare, Morrowind took place in a remote volcanic island called Vvardenfell, a departure from typically verdant High Fantasy locales and a harsh environment of ash, heat, and dust. Visually, Morrowind distinguished itself from nearly every other fantasy RPG with its distinctive setting: an island formed by an active volcano surrounded by blasted wastelands and poisonous swamps. Familiar stone wall castles contrasted with towers built from titanic mushrooms and cities built from the hollowed husks of gigantic insects. And the island's native population, the Dunmer, are a race split between the traditional values of their tribal demon-worshiping "Ashlanders" and the new values encouraged by their self-made-Gods, Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec, who call themselves the Tribunal.

The player is soon told that his character is the reincarnation of Lord Indoril Nerevar, an ancient Dunmer hero who died mysteriously nearly 3,500 years before the game starts. A prisoner of the human-led Empire, the Player arrives in Vvardenfell as the game begins, now free for reasons not yet clear, and finds the island is under attack by a strange and powerful being named Dagoth Ur. As he plays, the Player finds copies of a 36 volume set of religious sermons called "The 36 Lessons of Vivec."

The "Lessons" read less like instruction and more like snippets of ancient Hindu epics like the Ramayana, and at first glance they appear to be possibly fictional stories about the relationship between the student, Nerevar, and his teacher, Vivec. The two seem very close. But when the Player starts to uncover the stories of how his previous incarnation was killed, some of them implicate Vivec himself as the murderer.

And this begins the first question that drags most players into the 36 Lessons of Vivec: "Who killed Indoril Nerevar?" But this murder mystery is perhaps the easiest question to solve, outnumbered by a thousand more puzzling questions about the origins of the Tribunal, the motivations of Dagoth Ur, the nature of life, and the true purpose of the Elder Scrolls universe itself.

Eventually, after enough examination, it becomes clear that the 36 Lessons also serve as an instructional story, similar to the Bhagavad Gita, intended to help bring the reader closer to enlightenment.

This website is intended to serve as a companion-piece to the 36 Lessons of Vivec. I intend to explain, in as much detail as possible, every book in the series. However, some concepts are very complicated and I just couldn't find a single place to fit them, so I wrote some essays instead.


The Fire of Vivec

Entering Paradise, Our Mother

What is Love? A Guide to understanding Vivec's relationship to divinity and the universe

Mephala and the Destruction of Terror and Theory

Vivec, Amaranth, Life


Let's get one thing clear from the start: This is not the definitive guide to the 36 Lessons of Vivec. This is only my interpretation of the 36 Lessons of Vivec, speaking from a lore nerd with quite a bit of extensive research under his belt. The term "expert" has been thrown around, and about that I can only say that my credentials are as respectable as anyone's. But my perspective on the 36 Lessons changes as I also change, with the same inevitability, and I welcome the frequent re-examination of my theories and the evolution of opinion that follows.

Nothing has been "solved." Nor should there ever be. The 36 Lessons, like many elements of Elder Scrolls Lore, are intended to be experienced subjectively and will mean different things to different people. So please, read this guide, think about it, and then formulate your own opinions. Every perspective is valid. It's better this way, trust me. A magician should never give away all of his tricks. And anyway, the trick is never as impressive after it's explained to you.

I'd encourage everyone to read this thing consecutively. I'm going to explain things in one chapter and not in the next. At the same time, I'll put off discussing a point until much later in the Lessons, after more theories have been established and discussed. Skip around and you might get confused.

On a similar note, I plan to constantly update these commentaries as I discover new connections. I will hopefully mention somewhere when and what has been updated, but I suspect I'll manage to screw that up every so often.

This guide is not going to be much use to you unless you've finished Morrowind and at least the Tribunal expansion. Also there are lots of spoilers. So if you have never played Morrowind, you'll likely find much of these commentaries to be confusing, at worst. But fans of the other Elder Scrolls games, such as Oblivion and Skyrim and Elder Scrolls: Online will find the concepts explained in the 36 Lessons are woven deep into the fabric of the entire series. There are no coincidences. Everything is connected.


Here's a list of frequently used terms and concepts, defined as they pertain to the 36 Lessons. Believe it or not, these are actually among some of the easier concepts.


I'd like to take a moment to thank the people and groups that made this website possible:

Michael Kirkbride. When I faced my darkest moment he gave me a light to lead me out. Or maybe he dangled a shiny thing in my face to distract me. Maybe both?

Albatross, shadow of the shadow, shit-bird, and wearer of tall voice-cloth. His comings and goings are marked by the dissolution of forerunning plans and the eternal echoing call of CA-CAW!

My fellow Amaranth Hunters. Without you, my knowledge of TES Lore would be infinitely less than it is. The Hunt threads were truly the greatest cooperative puzzling I've ever done.

Index | Foreword | Essays | Disclaimer | Terminology | Credits