ESO Mythos In Review: The Maormer
The following article was written for Tamrielfoundry.com, and published 06/16/2014; it can be seen here as published on Tamriel Foundry.
With the launch of the Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) players have had an opportunity to return to Tamriel; enjoying a breadth of locations comparable to Arena. While not every part of Tamriel is currently available, there is quite a bit; providing exposure to the mythos Bethesda (Softworks/Game Studios) has been crafting since the first game in the Elder Scrolls (ES) franchise in 1994. ZeniMax Online Studios (ZoS) was formed in 2007 specifically to create TESO. With ZoS’s parentage being that of Bethesda, we would expect TESO to meet the expectations on story we have come to expect from Bethesda.
In this article I will look at one area of the Elder Scrolls mythos: the Maormer. The Moarmer are described in prior ES games but lack the kind of representation seen in TESO. The Maormer are a race of Elves from the isle of Pyandonea. They are known by several names including being known as the Sea Elves, and the Tropical Elves.
Far to the south of the Summerset Isles is the island kingdom of Pyandonea, home to the Maormer, a rare breed of tropical elf. It is covered mostly in dense rain forest, and is a playground for the southern water spirits. The Maormer almost never travel to Tamriel or visit their cousins at Summerset, for they were exiled from the latter kingdom in ancient times. They are known to possess a strange, chameleon-like skin, an involuntary process that is similar to the forest-coupling skills of the Bosmer. They also practice a powerful form of snake magic. With this, they have tamed the sea serpents of their island for use as steeds and warbeasts. The Maormer ruler is King Orgnum, a deathless wizard who is said to be the Serpent God of the Satakal. – A Pocket Guide to The Empire and its environs, First Edition: The Wild Regions
As always, the rich literature available in the ES games provides a great wealth of information; in this case the Pocket Guide to the Empire and its environs (PGEE), various editions, are very helpful in looking into the Maormer. The Maormer, like the Altmer, are descended from the Aldmeri. The Altmer of the Summerset Isles and their southern neighbors in Pyandonea have had a poor relationship throughout the ages. The Maomer found their home on Pyandonea as exiles; either from the Summerset Isles as the brethren of the Altmer or from farther back in Aldmeris, the homeland of the Aldmer.
Translations of tapestries in the Crystal Tower tell the tale of a far older enmity. The Maormer were likely separated from the ancient Aldmer not in Summerset, but in their original homeland of Aldmeris. – PGEE, Third Edition
Orgnum, described as the King or leader of the Maormer, was possibly an extraordinarily wealthy Aldmer nobleman, who, used his wealth and power to instigate a rebellion against the powers that were in Aldmeris. At a minimum though Orgnum is the leader of the Maormer throughout recorded history, including all of the Maormer’s numerous conflicts with the Altmer; conflicts that all were failures.
It is on Pyandonea that the Maormer found their refuge either as exiles or willing and from there that Orgnum has lead them. Pyandonea is described in commentary from a failed Altmer navel expedition in 2E 486:
Massive plateaus spilling over with vegetation form mazes around valleys of ocean. Waving tendrils of kelp trap all but the Maormer’s own ships, and provide a well-camouflaged home for the sea serpents that are Orgnum’s guards and occasional mounts. Mist storms spill over the land, further disorienting one’s views. – PGEE, Third Edition
This description reinforces the Tropical description of Pyandonea and explains the name Tropical Elves applied to the Maormer. Mist is mentioned in this description and on in other references; notably regarding a “Veil of Mist” separating Pyandonea and Aldmeris.
[Orgnum] and his followers were banished for this to a place separated from Aldmeris by an impenetrable mist, Pyandonea, “The Veil of Mist”. This boundary proved so effective that the followers of Orgnum never again disturbed their former countrymen. The new Aldmeri homeland of Summerset, however, was not so lucky. – PGEE, Third Edition
If the Maormer are directly from Almeris and not the neighboring Summerset Isles the mist could very likely be an extension of the aforementioned barrier. At a minimum though it is clear that Pyandonea is tropical in nature, including vegetation, wild life, and weather.
More could be written about the Maormer, including the brief alliance with the Aldmeri Dominion under the Thalmor government; however during the events of TESO they are in a state of conflict consistent with much of the Altmer and Maormer history. Further our focus is broader and on the Maormer as a people:
- Descended from the Aldmeri directly or indirectly as descendants of the Altmer.
- From the island nation of Pyandonea, south of the Summerset Isles which in turn are southwest of the continent of Tamriel.
- At war with the Altmer of Summerset Isle.
- Lead by Orgnum.
- Serpants are a recurring theme in their culture and relgiousity.
The Maormer make their appearence in TESO; both directly through interaction in a dungeon, and quest(s) available to players in the Aldmeri Dominion, as well as indirectly in new lore. In fact it is in ESO that the Maormer really make a mark in the ES franchise.
In TESO the Maormer appear in areas available to players in the Aldmeri Dominion; this is consistent with lore given the proximity of Pyandonea to Tamriel and the history of the Maormer with the Altmer.
Player’s will interact with the Maormer in Auridon if they pursue related quests near Vulkhel Guard; and also the optional Starter Island for the Aldmeri Dominion (AD), Khenarthi’s Roost, as well as the optional dungeon, Tempest Island. As noted all of these are in Aldmeri Dominion accessed territories; further none of these interactions are part of the main storyline.
On Khenarthi’s Roost they have an embassy and accompanying staff and an ambassador there. In TESO the Maormer claim Khenarthi’s Roost by treaty with the arrival of Aldmeri forces proving a point of contention between the AD, the Maormer, and the Khajiit inhabitants of Khenarthi’s Roost. On Khenarthi’s Roost the player will have the opportunity not only to interact with Maormer, but also to see their architecture (the embassy), a warship, Armour and Arms, both sexes, along with the distrust between the Altmer and the Maormer. Of note are Serpents as a recurrent them for decoration on banners and for the embassy and warship such as carvings; this is in-line with references in the PGEE First Edition to snake magic and a serpant god. Sea Serpents are further mentioned as being used by the Maormer as an instrument of war during the quest on Khenarthi’s Roost; this is consistent with notes in both the First and Third editions of the PGEE. Regarding the Moarmer ship however, it by appearance is no different than other ships seen in TESO with the simple addition of the serpent decorations including carvings and banners. This is in contrast to references in book IV of the Wolf Queen as well as in corresponding lore in TESO, the Tempest Island Briefing:
Against the gray, breaking waves where she had seen so many vessels of Tamrielic manufacture, it looked less than exotic. Insectoid, certainly, with its membranous sails and rugged chitin hull, but she had seen similar if not identical seacraft in Morrowind. No, if not for the flag which was markedly alien, she would not have picked out the ship from others in the harbor. – The Wolf Queen: Book Four
If one reflects on the Chitin armour of Morrowind, the ship in Khenarthi’s Roost in no way reflects this description. We can disregard this as a ship captured and reused during war or piracy; beutekriegsschiff. Although we could also write this off as the ships in the game Morrowind surrounding Vvardenfell such as the Arrow which appears to have a wood hull; however how these ships could be construed as ‘Insectoid’ or having a Chitin hull and membranous sails is completely unclear.
On Tempest Island, a dungeon available in TESO in the Aldmeri Dominion territory of Malabal Tor, players will again have an opportunity to see the Maormer. Tempest Island represents Maomer territory as noted in the quest. Although it is accessed from Malabal Tor, which is not on the southern coast of the Aldmeri Dominion, we can presume it takes place near Pyandonea as the island is accessed by means of a ship. The island has a jungle feel with a sense of a storm taking place; consistent with descriptions of Pyandonea. The player encounters Maormer as well as creatures such as the serpent like Lamia.
The Maormer also appear as the Sea Vipers in the Aldmeri Dominion territories of Khenarthi’s Roost, Auridon, and Greenshade. On Khenarthi’s Roost encounters with the Sea Vipers sees the storm magic in one quest in particular. On Auridon, the appearance of the Maormer is reminiscent of pre-TESO lore regarding the ongoing conflicts with the Altmer.
The Maormer in TESO appear to fit the descriptions in the texts of the ES franchise; no doubt Lawrence Schick, Lead Loremaster at ZoS has been hard at work to ensure this among other things including the addition of new lore related to the Maormer. Players can find texts such as the Maormer Correspondence Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 as well as the Maomer drafted treaty with Khenarthi’s Roost.
Works Cited, with Annotations
- “Mer.” . wikia, n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Mer>.
- Circa 1998 from the game The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard:
“A Pocket Guide to The Empire and its environs, First Edition.” The Imperial Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.imperial-library.info/content/pocket-guide-empire-and-its-environs-first-edition>.
- “Maormer.” Elder Scrolls. wikia, n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Maormer>.
- “Lore:Maormer.” – UESPWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Maormer>.
- Circa 2006 from the game The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion:
“Pyandonea.” The Imperial Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.imperial-library.info/content/pocket-guide-empire-third-edition-pyandonea>.
- New lore from TESO:
“Maormer Correspondence.” The Imperial Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.imperial-library.info/content/maormer-correspondence-0>.
- “ESO Group Dungeon Guides: Tempest Island Dungeon Guide on Normal Mode For Lv35.” ESO Group Dungeon Guides: Tempest Island Dungeon Guide on Normal Mode For Lv35. N.p., 26 May 2014. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.esogoldah.com/news/38–eso-group-dungeon-guides-tempest-island-dungeon-guide-on-normal-mode-for-lv35>.
- These titles appear in ES games prior to TESO:
“Lore:The Wolf Queen.” – UESPWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:The_Wolf_Queen#Book_Four>.
- “Lore:Tempest Island Briefing.” – UESPWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Tempest_Island_Briefing>.
- “Morrowind:Ships.” – UESPWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Ships>.
- “Sea Viper.” Elder Scrolls. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2014. <http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Sea_Viper>.
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