In fantasy stories, there is almost always a Chosen One. Regardless of the entertainment medium, video games, books, movies, and TV shows, there are always heroes meant for greatness. Those who rise to the occasion and do what the rest of us cannot. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is no different.
Morrowind takes a different spin on the Chosen One trope. And by the end, it makes for a more satisfying power fantasy story. Allow me to tell you the story of Lord Nerevarine in this Nerevarine guide.
Who Is The Nerevarine?
The Nerevarine is you, the player character of The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. Though Bethesda has never officially stated the canonical identity of the Nerevarine, the community at large accepts the heros in promotional material for all Elder Scrolls titles as the canonical main characters.
Operating under that assumption, the Nerevarine is a male Dunmer (It also makes little sense for you to be anything other than Dunmer for reasons that I will explain shortly).
For unknown reasons, you were in jail in the Imperial City. In the year 427 of the Third Era, Emperor Uriel Septim VII personally requested that you be released and shipped to Morrowind (Alongside Jiub, another fated Dunmer hero).
Here, you are to report to Caius Cosades, leader of the Blades (And high-functioning Skooma user). While it initially appears as though you are here to serve the Emperor like all other Blades, your purpose is far greater than it seems.
The errands that Caius will send you on is him tugging on threads to get to the bottom of the Nerevarine Prophecy. The Emperor is known for his prophetic visions and sent you here under the belief that the Nerevarine Prophecy may apply to you.
What Is The Nerevarine Prophecy?
The Nerevarine Prophecy came into existence after the Tribunal’s betrayal and murder of Lord Indoril Nerevar. Immediately afterward, Vivec, Sotha Sil, and Almalexia (Nerevar’s wife) used the Dwemer artifacts called Kagrenac’s Tools and the Heart of Lorkhan to make themselves immortal. The Daedric Prince Azura cursed the Tribunal for their actions and promised Nerevar would return to right their wrongs.
For centuries, the Tribunal became the gods of the Dunmer people, establishing the Tribunal Temple and prosecuting anyone who dared to entertain the notion of the Nerevarine Prophecy. Over time, belief in the Nerevarine Prophecy dwindled to near non-existence except amongst the nomadic Ashlander tribes.
Eventually, the once independent Morrowind would fall under the control of the Imperial Empire, and Morrowind’s liberation from foreign invaders was inserted into the Nerevarine Prophecy as well. And that makes sense since Nerevar did the exact same thing in his time.
But who was Lord Nerevar, and why are the Tribunal so insistent on making sure he never comes back?
Indoril Nerevar was an ancient Chimer hero from the First Era that united warring Chimer clans, becoming history’s first known Hortator. To this day, he is considered one of the greatest heroes of the Dunmer. In Skyrim, you can hear Dunmer say, “Nerevar guide me!” before going into combat. He established an alliance with Dumac, the Dwemer king. Together, they overthrew the Nordic Empire and established Morrowind’s independence.
The alliance lasted for hundreds of years until Kagrenac attempted a power play. The architect discovered the Heart of Lorkhan beneath Red Mountain and began experimenting with its’ power. He developed Kagrenac’s Tools for the sole purpose of exploiting the Heart of Lorkhan and began work on the first Numidium (A massive golem).
He intended to give the Dwemer enough power to claim Morrowind (Known as Resdayn at the time) for themselves. Lore Nerevar’s advisors eventually learned of Kagrenac’s machinations, and the alliance between the Chimer and the Dwemer was no more. Alongside his allies from House Dagoth, Nerevar went to war with the Dwemer.
Nerevar defeated the Dwemer in the war. Dumac fell, and Kagrenac was no longer a problem (Though what happened to Kagrenac has been in dispute ever since). Nerevar and Voryn Dagoth, his advisor and friend, stumbled upon Kagrenac’s Tools and the Heart of Lorkhan. He left Dagoth to stand guard while he returned to seek council from Vivec, Sotha Sil, and Almalexia.
Each swore an oath to Azura and promised never to use Kagrenac’s Tools or tamper with the Heart of Lorkhan. Unfortunately for Nerevar, when he and his advisors returned to Dagoth, his friend had done exactly that. Voryn Dagoth was now Dagoth Ur, and the two former allies battled one another. Nerevar was once again triumphant and drove Dagoth Ur away. What comes next would be in dispute for centuries to come.
According to the Tribunal Temple, Nerevar died of wounds from his battle with Dagoth Ur. But for those who believe in the Nerevarine Prophecy, Nerevar was betrayed and murdered by his advisors. As for which is true, the victors of war are the ones who narrate history. You will discover the truth of Nerevar’s death during Morrowind’s main quest.
Thanks to the efforts of Sotha Sil, Nerevar’s advisors learned to use Kagrenac’s Tools to channel the power of the Heart of Lorkhan. They would turn themselves into the Living Gods and establish the Tribunal Temple. Azura would curse them for what they did, and the Chimer and promise the Nerevarine Prophecy will come to fruition. But the Tribunal certainly wouldn’t make it easy for Azura to bring about their downfall.
The Failed Incarnates
Remember how I said that Morrowind puts a cool spin on the traditional Chosen One tale? The player character of Morrowind may be the one who fulfills the Nerevarine Prophecy, but you are not the only one who had the chance.
Over the centuries since the rise of the Tribunal, there have been many potential Nerevarines. The Ashlander tribes would test them in hopes of them being Nerevar returned, and the Tribunal Temple would prosecute and hunt down said potential Nerevarines. Late in the main quest, you will meet some of them in the Cavern of the Incarnate. These people are called the Failed Incarnates.
All of them had the potential to become the Nerevarine but failed for one reason or another. Hort Ledd was a potential Nerevarine 400 years before the events of Morrowind but was only a thinker. He lacked the combat prowess necessary of Nerevar Incarnate. Aduri had the battle prowess needed to fulfill the Nerevarine Prophecy but lacked everything else. All she cared about was war, and it would lead to her demise.
You have the opportunity to learn from past Failed Incarnates so that you may fulfill the Nerevarine Prophecy yourself. And that’s one of the things that I love about Morrowind.
When you seek out the Ashlanders for the first time to see if you’re the Nerevarine, their answer is basically maybe, maybe not. You have to prove yourself many times before they’re willing to call you the reincarnation of Lord Nerevar. In most other Chosen One stories, they’re born as the destined hero.
Another thing I like about Morrowind’s take is the Tribunal’s active efforts to prevent the Nerevarine Prophecy from ever happening. In other stories, it’s like here’s the single person alive that can stop you from achieving your goal.
They have zero clue about their destiny to stop you and currently lack the power to do so. The bad guys are aware of said Chosen One yet do nothing to eliminate them until after the Chosen One is strong enough to oppose them. And it’s like, why, though? You’re the bad guy who wants to take over/destroy the world. Why are you letting your greatest enemy get strong enough to beat you?
I’m not a fan of the Tribunal for what they did. But I have to give them credit for being wiser than most.
How Powerful Is The Nerevarine?
Since the Nerevarine is the player character of Morrowind, it’s impossible to describe the exact skillset of Lord Nerevar’s reincarnation. There are, however, several noteworthy things to mention regarding the strength of the Nerevarine.
Corprus, also known as the Divine Disease, is an affliction created by Dagoth Ur. It is the most serious of Blight ailments, warping the mind and turning the skin a pale gray. It deforms the body and turns most into violent, mindless beasts. The people of Morrowind consider it an incurable disease.
During the main quest, the Nerevarine contracts Corprus but finds a cure for the disease. While not eliminating it, said cure does eliminate the negative effects.
Wait, negative effects? Do you mean there are positive effects to having Corprus? That depends; do you consider no longer aging and complete disease immunity as net positives? After being “cured” of Corprus, the Nerevarine achieves pseudo-immortality. I’m sure that will come in handy.
The Defeat Of Dagoth Ur
The original Lord Nerevar successfully defeated Dagoth Ur after Voryn Dagoth betrayed him, but Dagoth Ur in Morrowind is far stronger than he was hundreds of years before. He has spent centuries growing more powerful due to being close to the Heart of Lorkhan. So much so that his power outclassed that of the Tribunal.
The Defeat Of Hircine
During the events of the Bloodmoon expansion pack, the Nerevarine battles Hircine’s mortal form and emerges the victor.
Hircine. You know, one of the Daedric Princes.
CHIM, the Secret Symbol of Royalty, can almost be considered the Neo cheat code of the Elder Scrolls. Just like Neo becoming The One allows him to ignore the rules of The Matrix, CHIM enables beings to break free of the laws of existence. It’s basically life with console commands.
It centers around the belief in an entity known as Godhead. Everything that happens in The Elder Scrolls is just a part of Godhead’s dream. By achieving CHIM, you recognize you are just a part of Godhead’s dream but maintain your sense of self regardless of you potentially being a mere figment of an omnipotent being’s imagination. By doing so, you can ignore the rules of reality since you are aware that it technically isn’t reality in the first place.
Two mortals in The Elder Scrolls are known to have achieved CHIM: Vivec and Tiber Septim. Bethesda has never confirmed it, but the Nerevarine does engage with Vivec in Morrowind, and many speculate that Nerever Reincarnated may have achieved CHIM after the events of Morrowind through Vivec’s teachings.
The Fate Of The Nerevarine And Morrowind
After the events of Morrowind and its’ expansion packs, the Nerevarine took a page out of The Avatar’s playbook and vanished. No one has heard or seen from The Nerevarine since.
The Nerevarine fulfilled the Nerevarine Prophecy but was not the long-lasting salvation of Morrowind. In the 5th year of the Fourth Era, the Red Year began, destroying most of Morrowind and leaving the rest largely unhospitable.
The following year, the Argonians attacked to get revenge on the Dunmer for generations of enslavement. It’s a harsh fate but not entirely undeserved. And it’s another reason why I enjoy the story of Morrowind. Usually, after defeating the big bad villain, everyone lives happily ever after. People in Morrowind are lucky just to be alive.
Maybe Bethesda will revisit the Nerevarine in future installments of The Elder Scrolls. After all, the whole pseudo-immunity thing likely means the Nerevarine is still alive. However, they have never brought the main character back from any of their games. I’m not holding my breath.
And so, for now, ends the story of The Nerevarine.
Question: Is The Nerevarine considered the most powerful Elder Scrolls protagonist?
Answer: That’s a tricky question to answer. The canonical power of the Voice is immense. The Greybeards were able to shake the ground of Skyrim simply by calling the Dragonborn’s name. Heck, by whispering it, not shouting. But The Nerevarine is clearly no slouch.
At the same time, there’s the unconfirmed matter of whether the Hero of Kvatch became Sheogorath after the events of The Shivering Isles. So, for now, let’s just agree that every protagonist is OP.
Question: Does The Nerevarine defeat the Tribunal?
Answer: Sotha Sil perishes during the events of the Tribunal expansion pack (Not by The Nerevarine’s hands), and The Nerevarine does kill Almalexia. You can kill Vivec in-game, but it’s not a canonical event as Vivec disappears shortly after the events of Morrowind. Tribunal worship is a thing in the past, with them now only being saints, so The Nerevarine effectively ends their hold over the Dunmer.
Question: Were the Tribunal evil for betraying Nerevar?
Answer: It was wrong of them to betray Lord Nerevar, but they did do great things for the people of Morrowind for thousands of years. Vivec, in particular, saved the Dunmer countless times, hence why they named the city Vivec after him. After losing god-status, Vivec used what little power he had left to restructure the Tribunal Temple and assist the Dunmer while he still had the chance.
So, it’s not a black or white answer to say if the Tribunal were bad people for betraying the Chimer’s greatest hero. In the end, all had the best interests of Morrowind at heart; they just had different visions on how to achieve their goals.
Nerevarine Guide: Conclusion
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is my favorite game of all time. I love the utterly bizarre landscape of Morrowind and the hero’s journey where I have to earn my status as Chosen One. It’s a very satisfying power fantasy.
But like all Elder Scrolls games, the main quest and becoming the Nerevarine is just one part of the adventure. You can and will spend hundreds of hours doing everything other than the main quest as you get lost in the wonderful world of Morrowind. Your destiny can wait. Hitch a ride with the nearest Silt Strider and experience this marvelous game for yourself.