The sigil of Indoril is Nerevar-Ascendant, the first leader of the House.
The Gardens Resdaynia is[-and-is-becoming] the perfect order, ordained by the Three in Their infinite and graceful wisdom. See its landscapes – the ash, the salt, the [earthen soil]; see its plantings – the sadrith, the parasol, the tree; see its follies – the ancient ruins of our vanquished foes, the profane shrines to our devils, the abandoned fortresses of our life before the Light; see its waters – the respite of mother Thirr, the harshness of the [Inner Sea], the wilderness of the sea beyond; see its heights – the walls of Veloth to the west, the secrets of Mephala's maze to the east, the Tower of the Sharmat, encircled at its heart. The Gardens Resdaynia is[-and-is-becoming] the perfect order.
At the center of the Gardens Resdaynia is the House of Mourning, which is the Mother's House. We are kin to the Three and to the Hortator. We are the caretakers of the House of Mourning and the executors of the Law throughout the Gardens. We concede the outward houses of our gardens to others more suited to the task – to Hlaalu the Gate; to Redoran the Wall; to Dres the House of Remembrance; to Telvanni the House of [Denial]. They order the peripheries of the Gardens as they will.
But in the House of Mourning and the Garden of the Heart, we keep a firm order. The outward houses would alloy ebony with chitin – they keep their ancestors in improper registry, if they keep them at all. Our house is not myriad – its rule is universal but its numbers are few. Ours is the House of the Three, it administers Their law, establishes Their order, and ensures Their peace. Our mission is too sacred for our doors to open inward.
–Indoril Envyn Sothil, Majordomo of the Chapel's Entryway, Bis Indaryn
General Schematic of Indoril Society
The House Indoril's particular Tribunal is Almalexia.
To understand the Indoril we must understand Tribunate law, which is divided into two broad categories – the Laws Determined and the Laws Ordained. Ordained laws are the laws which can be broken, and which it is our moral responsibility not to break; it is the role of the Temple (and the ordinators, which literally means “those who ordain”) to guide us in these laws and to punish those who violate them. Determined laws are those laws which we cannot break, those which, by the will of the Tribunal, just are. These mean things like the laws of nature but also things like social hierarchies and precedences that we think can be changed, but in the Indoril worldview are inviolable. Things like slavery.
The Indoril are therefore all about the maintenance of law and order. They are a society of regulators. It is also a house in which actions are highly ritualized. Deviations from determined law are rigorously corrected and denied as incoherent. For example: the route along a pilgrimage requires crossing a particular bridge. The bridge has collapsed. Pilgrims continue to cross it – those who can levitate do, those who can't die. Maybe that's extreme, but that's the idea: determined law cannot be wrong, its a contradiction in terms. That said, there is a great deal of interpretation in understanding what determined law actually dictates, especially now that the Tribunal do not make appearances in public.
Many of the houses of Morrowind are organized in a manner which is not egalitarian but is at least a certain kind of corporatism. The House is the society, it has all of its organs, from the farmers and laborers to the house-guards, the councillors, the wealthy merchants, the vast landowner. For the Indoril, this is not so. Indeed, their order is universal – in their minds it does not only extend over the people of the lands they directly control, but over every other house as well. But that does not make those who labor in their fields or craft their materials their kin even in the most distant sense that some of the other houses will abide. The Indoril are a class above all others, they have been given the sole task of governing.
The Indoril do not live among the people they rule. They live in their castle-estates, dispersed throughout the wilderness of their lands or in the great city of the Mourning Hold. The towns that dot their lands have no Indoril save the House Guards who ensure order; these towns are for the peasants and other commoners who do not have kinship to the Tribunal. Thus, there are essentially three classes of settlement in the Indoril territories: towns filled with non-House-affiliated Dunmer; castle-estates which belong to Indoril lords; and Almalexia, their great metropolitan capital and holy city.
History of House Indoril
House Indoril traces its’ origins to the first Chimer inhabitants of Resdayn, in particular a few notable figures that were present in Dunmer prehistory, prior to the Red Event (known as the Battle of Red Mountain). What would eventually become House Indoril, was once a minor clan in Chimer nobility, Indoril Laesa (who would become known as Almalexia), being one of its’ members. At some point, Laesa eventually became betrothed to Nerevar, a Chimer who claimed to be from another minor clan.
During the War of the First Council, Nerevar, Laesa, and their cohort rose in prominence, through deeds of battle throughout the war. During the Battle of Red Mountain, events took a drastic turn, and while the details of the Red Event remained murky, it became clear that a new social order was to come from these events. The Dwemer were eventually defeated, and vanished shortly afterward. Nerevar was dead, and the Chimer became the Dunmer. However, Laesa (now styling herself as Alma Laesa or Mother Laesa), and two of her companions mysteriously retained their appearances, proclaiming themselves as the Tribunal, and the rightful rulers of the new nation of Morrowind.
Shortly after the Proclamation of the Tribunal, a particularly zealous and devout group, many of whom had previously been the handservants, secondary advisors, and shield-companions of the Tribunes in Their mortal history, set about proselytizing the newly ashened Dunmer and setting the order of Morrowind to right. This group included figures like Olms, Delyn, and Llothis. This group, which included most of the cousins of Nerevar, would become the House Indoril. They regarded their actions as the continuity of the Second Council in keeping the laws of Morrowind; they regard Indoril Nerevar as the first leader of their house.
This house came to dominate Morrowind by virtue of controlling the Temple and regulating the law. The Telvanni abandoned the rest of Dunmer society, and the Dres operated in stubborn heterodoxy on the Deshaan, so both of those houses were largely outside of the Indoril sphere. But in the rest of Morrowind, the Redoran guarded the border and the Hlaalu mediated Morrowind's relationship with outlanders, but the Indoril ruled.
However, the Indoril's system was cracked by the Armistice. It's well-known that many Indoril committed suicide, but the reason is not well-understood. It is said that they weren't stubborn or arrogant, but just couldn't make sense of Morrowind losing its independence, because this was not consistent with determined law. A flurry of exegeses were written to explain the Armistice in terms of determined law; these tended to present the situation in a way that maintained the Tribunal's total sovereignty over Morrowind.
Still, it became harder and harder for the Indoril to maintain their now mostly theoretical jurisdiction over areas beyond their heartland. The upstart merchant families along Morrowind’s southern waterways were already operating independently from Indoril theocracy, through their trade networks, eventually coalescing as House Hlaalu. In the northwest, Indoril laws were seen as less relevant by the semi-nomadic warrior bands that would eventually form House Redoran. Despite maintaining close connections with the Tribunal, they preferred to revere them in their own way.
As the present day approaches, the Indoril now face the biggest challenges they have faced in their history. A third of their holy capital is now occupied by outlanders, with the presence of an Empire-backed King threatening to finally dismantle Indoril hegemony in Morrowind. To the west and south, the Hlaalu, emboldened from their gains post-Armistice and adopting an expansionist policy, have begun to gobble up the remaining Indoril territories around the Thirr River, a major trade route. In these outlying areas, local Velothi have begun to show less reverence to Indoril customs, as they risk being absorbed into Hlaalu society. The crisis is now at a breaking point, as the Grand Ascendant of House Indoril is on his last legs, and has not been seen outside of his cloister in months. The unitary theology of the House for the first time faces challenges both from within, and without. Tough times face Morrowind’s House of rulers, as sweeping upheavals threaten to destabilize the very foundations of Morrowind’s society.
On the Laws Determined, Ordained, and Indoril Governance
House Indoril is a society of regulators, and their doctrine and system of governance largely derives from the interpretation of Tribunal law. There are two facets to Indoril interpretation of Tribunate law, the Laws Determined and the Laws Ordained. The Laws Determined contains all laws that cannot be broken, and which by the will of the Tribunal, just are. Examples of this are things like the laws of nature, or social hiearchies that are rigid and inviolable. The Laws Ordained however, can be broken, and it is one’s moral duty not to break them, lest they be punished.
The Indoril see themselves as divinely appointed rulers of Morrowind, in accordance with natural law laid down by the blessed Tribunal. Why then should they fully recognise the rights of other houses to hold sovereignty over their regions or should they fully recognise their authority as lawful?
Whatever they think is right is right, even if they change their mind about something. They were right then, and they're still right now. The Tribunal and Temple make the laws, but Indoril nobles are the ones who interpret and apply them. If the laws change, they do not discount the earlier interpretation, which was still correct then.
Indoril draw their power from years and years of wisdom, accumulated through a lifetime of studying Temple laws and doctrine, and the constant meditation and application of these laws. Their worldview is largely based on the unitary concept that all of Resdayn (Morrowind) is a garden, and like any garden, must be ordered and maintained dutifully. Keeping order and beauty in the garden is one’s sacred duty, and not to be taken lightly. Successful application of these virtues is to uphold the Tribunal’s vision of Morrowind. That being said, each Indoril meditates upon and interprets the Laws Determined in various ways, and their interpretations do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Causes and reasonings may vary between the different Elders, and some can often be contradictory, often causing conflict within the House itself.
This means everything in Indoril-controlled areas is roughly structured to reflect their worldview, from the organization and distribution of settlements, to how their respective areas are governed. Using our own world as a loose analog, Indoril society is based off a mixture feudal European and Japanese societies. The Velothi commoners are beneath the Indoril ruling class, tilling the land for the benefit of a particular lord, in exchange for their protection. Taxes are gathered by hetmen and retainers, and presented to the local Chapels, which also act as missions in the more far-flung areas of Indoril territory. Everything of course, continues to be done in accordance to Determined and Ordained law, which governs all facets of society, and is rigid and unwavering (as the Indoril do not recognize the concept of invalidating laws, they are simply added upon and adjusted to adapt to changing situations).
Character Tropes of House Indoril
“An Argonian alone in the waste is not a slave. A Dunmer alone on the mountain is not a master. Yet both have it in them to be slave and master, should they meet together. It is in the meeting that the bond is created.”
– Meditations on Determined Law
In accordance with interpretations of Determined Law, slaves are the property of the Elder that possesses the right of the territory where the slave resides. How slaves are treated and used varies between various areas of jurisdiction, as Determined Law is often interpreted differently by different Elders. In general however, the Indoril treat slaves as an integral part of society, rather than objects of hatred and disgust. This is not to say that moral superiority does not exist. Indeed, to the Indoril, the concept of slavery does not register in their codices, for in doing so would contradict their own doctrines. The implication of a master-slave relationship is simply nonexistent to the Indoril, as “slaves” are already free. To the Indoril though, the concept of “freedom” is a rather obtuse one, in which all beings are already “free”, yet all free beings are committed to the just cause of upholding the values set out by the Tribunal, and must all obey the moral duty of being the right cogs in the machine. To this end, they feel “slavery” is not an evil, but a just cause in which those who are “enslaved” are actually liberated through a life of service (although that service is less than ideal for most).
In terms of in-game representation, Indoril slaves are classified either as household slaves or “rented” out to commoners for use in other endeavours, endeavours which further society in the eyes of that particular elder.
Most Dunmer in Indoril lands are commoners who rarely interact with the lords of Indoril. They live in various small townships and mostly are farmers, with some slightly wealthier craftsmen and artisans among them. Their lives are simple and local: they rarely travel far from where they are born. They keep only a portion of what they produce, the remainder being given over to the house of the lord on whose lands they are tenants. Each township elects a hetman from among their elders to represent it to lord which rules it. Some of the commoners do not live in the township proper, but on the backwoods or near the fields that they till. Some townships are poorer than others, being made of wooden shacks, while others have built adobe buildings.
Common Dunmer east of the Thirr are just as unfriendly as their lords. There are only a handful of outlanders in their part of the country and they are untrustworthy of travellers in general. The Dunmer are not hospitable and have no concept of guest-right. They are very religious, not in the sense that they are zealous or evangelistic, but in the sense that the Tribunal Temple is all they have ever known. They will generally dislike the player.
They trade with one another on a personal level, but they do not have merchants servicing even a regional trade network: the only major trade infrastructure is in the service of the House to move its portion. Recently, in some of the larger and wealthier townships, shopkeepers peddling imported items and magics have set up (mostly outlanders). The influx of outlanders of the past century has reached even as far as these towns, but to a much lesser degree than in western Morrowind, and these townships represent a more “traditional” way of life.
Some commoners also live as servants in the Indoril castle-estates, and many live in Almalexia. Those in Almalexia may work in the service of the House, or in trades which serve the other commoners, or they may live off of charity. Some are associated with one or another Tong which provides a service to nobles and provides for them. They tend to be more cosmopolitan than their rural compatriots, but that is not saying much.
Indoril retainers act as moral and personal support for the Inodril noblity. They are the ones who oversee the practical application of laws within their jurisdictions. They are the judiciary and itinerant clerks who mediate between the noble classes and the serfdom. Beyond Indoril territory, they can also be found at Temples and other locations, attempting to assert their virtues in places that have long strayed from them. They are sworn to the service of the Indoril nobles, and through determined study and meditation, can also become nobles themselves (if they have the right connections).
In exchange for their master's protection and support, a retainer is also expected to act as a substitute for their master when called upon. This can include social activities like making public appearances at the theatre or courthouse, going to Temple and praying for hours on end in place of their master, attending lectures, funerals and weddings of lower retainers, et cetera. It also includes nastier things - observing periods of mourning, or abstaining from eating, drinking and sex during times of fasting in their master's place or similar unpleasantness, in order not to burden their master so that the master can continue to work for the good of the House during such periods.
Much has already been written about the Indoril. They are Morrowind's equivalent of nobility and lawyers combined. Their lives are highly ritualized and all built around a sense of their personal superiority as the family of the divine. They feel both a strong sense of noblesse oblige, which drives them to commit certain acts of charity, and a strong sense of entitlement, which causes them to walk all over the enormous class of peasants which support their lifestyle.
They live in the Chapels of the Garden, monolithic structures that dominate the Heartland, or in Almalexia’s Moon-and-Star district, and wear a unique set of clothing. Their names are given in full in the old style: House, Personal, Family; since all of them are of House Indoril, that means that all of their names are prefixed “Indoril,” almost as if it is some sort of title. There are various groups within the Indoril that will be used to illustrate their fracturing hegemony (such as the Adamant Wings, and the Motherless) that will be described in the questing document and are generally unimportant to their greater character tropes).
Even though they do not have an obvious visual presence outside of Almalexia, their influence is widespread in the Heartland and beyond. While the highest echelons of the House are nobles, lawyers and priests in Almalexia, the Indoril also have a whole contingent of itinerant clerks, judges, moral advisors and spokesmen that pervade most corners of the country. (General name for these people is needed.) It is considered salutary for a young Indoril to travel to some far-flung area and engage in this kind of work for some time in order to connect with the true Dunmer spirit. They try to blend in, but always stick out anyway. Of course, like all their other Houses, their greatest virtue can also turn to hubris. Like their ideology, the Indoril are an influential, but ultimately naive romantic concept that does not hold up against context. Their years of resolute belief in the Dunmer at large has also left them with a slightly patronizing attitude. In recent years, as the dream of Resdayn finally begins to crumble, it has made them increasingly bitter about the gap between the course of history and their view of how things were meant to be: "We, who have always believed in you", like a parent whose child doesn't want to play the violin anymore.
Worldspace Implementation of House Indoril
Settlement-spaces in the territories of House Indoril can be classified in three categories: The capital city Almalexia, the Chapels of the Garden where the Indoril meditate and rule, and the townships of the serfdom.
Townships are built in the Velothi or Shack style, depending on how major and how wealthy the township is. They have little direct Indoril presence other than the Indoril guards who patrol them. They have an elected hetman and they are in the service of a particular Indoril Elder, who lives elsewhere. They have various traders depending on the size of the settlement; basically, they're normal towns. These are the most common settlements in Indoril territories. In traditional fashion, the larger towns are often dedicated to a patron saint, and act as local production centers, specializing in the creation of craft and wares.
The Chapels of the Garden are built the Mournhold style. They are not as numerous as the townships, but because of their vertical orientation and majestic form, they are more visually prominent in the distance. They will not have services for the player unless the player is a member of House Indoril. Each that exists needs to be thought out and they should not be especially numerous (on the order of a half dozen to ten). They are reclusive places of meditation, where each Elder reflects upon Determined Law prior to imposing their interpretations upon their respective territories. The larger garden-courts will often have auxiliary structures relating to the governance of a particular area. There is no fixed formulation as to how these estates are built, as each Indoril has their own way of maintaining dominion over the gardens of Resdayn.
Almalexia is in the Mournhold style as well. It has many important characters, is the largest city, and is deserving of its own documents to describe it in full. It is inimitable.
Major Settlement Spaces
Almalexia (I): As the capital city of Morrowind, the Mourning Hold, and the seat of Ayem and House Indoril, it lords over the surrounding landscape and is of great importance. The High Fane of the Mother overlooks a fork in the River Orethan. It is built on stone mesas of varying heights, where on which the various districts of the city are built upon. It is an embodiment of the social hierarchy established in Determined Law, where lower class districts are often built in between or underneath the main districts of the city (which surround the High Fane). Due to the loss of many Indoril after the Armistice, the southern part of the city was left vacant. While the Indoril by law do not ever “cede” territory, a large number of outlanders have established themselves in these abandoned districts, yet another example of how change is beginning to disrupt native hegemony. Outlanders sometimes (wrongfully) refer to the city as “Mournhold”. The scope of the city is not covered by this document.
Roa Dyr (V): Roa Dyr is the Chapel that governs the Thirr River Valley and is the largest of the remaining Towers, its influence having grown with the loss of other holdings west of the Thirr. It is the home of Muther-sil Indoril Draler Ilvi, who has become one of the most powerful of Indoril’s Illuminated Elders.
Yed Neyn (V): Yed Neyn is one of the Chapels that governs a significant portion of the Yad Orethan and is the seat of Indoril Everi Thanoram It is home to the Sacellum of the Wailing Delve, and a secret base for the Adamant Wing, an order of Indoril extremists. It is located just east of Almalexia.
Nadhyam (V): Nadhyam is the holding of Indoril Ienen Salvu, and lies on the northern border of the Yad Orethan. Below the chapel is the Flowering Temple, a shrine dedicated to the First Toilmer.
Dun Senim (V): Dun-Senim lords over the Vale of Mephala, and is the seat of Indoril Ienen Tomaril. It is highly imposing and one of the more fortified chapels in the district. Its’ presence is to establish Indoril control over the valley, as well as the Gardens-in-Denial to the north (Telvannis). It was rebuilt from the previous chapel at Dun Aamul, which was destroyed by cataclysms from the Red Mountain. Due to Tomaril being heirless, the chapel and its’ territory will revert to family bonestocks, though that hasn’t stopped other Indoril from attempting to assert their control over it.
Mol Murya (V): Mol Murya is the chapel of Orethan’s Mouth, and holds dominion over the area surrounding it. It is the largest chapel in Av-Orethan In accordance with Ordained Law, it is also the Court of the Southern Salt Marches. It is the seat of Indoril Meris Denaven, formerly of the Deshaan, who assumed control upon the extinction of a greater branch of the family.
Id Vano: Id Vano is the chapel for the Indoril player. Unlike other houses, it already exists in Indoril codicies, so it is not technically built, but reclaimed by the player. Of course for all practical reasons the player must overcome this formality, as no structure of the sort exists (it was lost in the Sundering). The player will first need to find the site of the long-lost stronghold, before establishing a nominal presence somewhere near Vvardenfell within the Azurian Straits.
Am Mar/Bis Indaryn/Nadhyam/Naan Av/Iv Sathil/Bet Yhdas (VI): Smaller chapels that are usually (not always, but in the case of our game yes) held by Lay Elders. While they are smaller, their physical size/dominion does not necessarily correlate with the power of whoever occupies them.
Othrensis (III): Othrensis is a major town on the main road to Almalexia. It is the largest settlement in the Yad Orethan, and specializes in the production of dyes extricated from the various fields of the Upper Otrethan. Built upon a shallow mesa, it is dedicated to Llothis, and houses the Shrine of the Passing Departed, a site of religious significance.
Lan Murha (III): Lan Murha is another major town on the east road, on the opposite side of the valley. Situated upon the Mouth of the Orethan River, its’ primarily situated as a trade town, and port of entry for ships en-route to the capital. Inside the town also lies the Shrine of the Last Guide, the site where it is speculated Veloth first caught sight of the Eastern Sea.
Umul (III): Umul is a major town in the Vale of Mephala, east of the chapel of Dun Senim. Originally a neutral Velothi eggmining town, its’ remote location has attracted attention from outlander guilds that have been unable to operate under the hegemony of House Indoril. Due to the dangers that plague the valley, as well as the political intrigue regarding control over the area, the town’s location makes it an ideal source of lucrative contracts.
Vhul (III): Vhul is a town in the Thirr River Valley, focused on the collection and production of Velk Nectar. It falls under the jurisdiction of Indoril Draler Ilvi, who collects the nectar as duty from the locals working his fields. It is home of the Sywit Tong, a local guild attempting to monopolize the recent influx of outlander trade in the region.
Sailen (III possibly II): Sailen is a large town in the Sacred Coast that serves as a major hostel and service node for pilgrims travelling to Necrom. Due to this, it is directly under the administration of the Tribunal Temple, which also gives the player quests in the location. It is also home to the Netchimer’s Arboretum, a place of enlightenment for Temple priests, and the Mausoleum of the Return, where bodies are prepared for their final journey to Necrom. Since no boats go to Necrom, Sailen also serves as a key trade node for vessels passing along the Padomaic Ocean. All pilgrims to Necrom must swear an Oath of Passing, and be blessed by the Majordomo of the Gate, before being allowed to visit the holy city.
Mervayan/Dondril/Ildrim/Id Vnas/Neyr Zhel/Seitur/Ohn (IV): Smaller villages that add flavour, usually cloister-towns for fishmongers, toilmer, and the like. Supports local industry. Some have small shrines or temples as places for locals to worship.
Tahvel/Dreynim/Ayam/Iyam/Thalnys/Dhalaan/Felm Ithil/Selyn/Rilsoan/Velonith/Darum/Nithrim (VI): These are the smallest hovels, and are generally considered inconsequential. They are usually farmsteads that dot the Orethan Valley. They illustrate the Velothi in its’ truest form.
Romithren/Sinramen/Llodnal (V): Monasteries of the Sacred Coast. These are remote places of learning and meditation. Their roles are further defined in the context of the Temple questline, and are unimportant for this document.
Quest & Character Implementation
I. Grand Ascendant
Leader of House Indoril, basically guaranteed sainthood.
Indoril Neril Dorom (Dead)
II. Seneschal of the House
Advisor to the Grand Ascendant on matters of the House, co-equal with two other advisors: the Alma Rula, who is master of the Temple, and the Seneschal of the City, who oversees Almalexia.
Indoril Arvalith Sandil (Almalexia/Gorne – Sacred Coast/Padomaic Ocean)
III. Illuminated Elder
To serve on the council, a Lay Elder must be approved by the Temple in a rite called Illumination. * denotes only theoretical control of territory not under Indoril jurisdiction.
Indoril Meris Denevan (Mol Murya - Ild Orethan/Deshaan*)
Indoril Draler Ilvi (Roa Dyr - Thirr River/Veloth*)
Indoril Ienen Salvu (Nadhyam – Yad Orethan)
Indoril Ereveri Thanoram (Yed Neyn - Yad Orethan/Almalexia)
Indoril Ienen Tomaril (Dun Senim - Mephala’s Vale/Telvannis*)
Player (Id Vano – Azuran Straits/Vvardenfell*)
IV. Lay Elder
Lay Elders are distinguished from Divine Elders, who are priests of the Temple.
V. Concordant Minister
Recognised for their skilled maintenance of order, especially through execution of a House War.
Advanced and successful participant in a House War.
Creedman who has taken up arms in a House War.
Lowest rank of nobility, has affirmed Delyn’s Creed.
An initiated member of House Indoril.
Taken an oath to serve House Indoril exclusively.
The player cannot simply work their way into House Indoril: they must marry into the house through an arranged marriage with a family member of their sponsor. They begin by serving errands to Arvalith Sandil, who eventually becomes their sponsor. This is described elsewhere in Why's notes, and not important to this document.