Culture (Cyrodiil)

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Miscellaneous topics related to Cyrodiilic society concept. To be structured as we go along.



Commissions are organizations or task forces set up by the Empire to oversee specific duties or investigations. Usually, they are ad hoc organizations which allow the Emperor (or other notables and factions) to get things done quickly without having to deal with the cumbersome bureaucracy of the Empire. Of course, is commissions remain active for too long they generally become part of aforementioned bureaucracy, further complicating the Imperial state structure. "Commission" is thus a catch-all term for a variety of Imperial institutions, including some familiar ones such as the Census & Excise Office.

Commission take two shapes:

  • An Imperial Commission is one chartered by the Emperor (or other important part of the Imperial state). Such commissions are mainly made up of Imperial dignitaries (military officers or bureaucrats, mostly) as well as potentially civil advisors or employees. Many Imperial commissions are merely advisory colleges, who are tasked to research or monitor a specific subject and issue their report to their patron. A number of Imperial commissions are more active, given specific duties within a potentially unlimited geographic area or timeframe. Commissions always derive their authority from their drafting patron, and are usually given a budget from the Imperial treasury by this patron. Since commissions are usually short-lived or given vaguely defined duties, they often clash with local authorities or other branches of the Imperial government due to a lack of clear hierarchies.
  • A Civil Commission is a private organization which vies for outsourced contracts from the Imperial government, for infrastructural works or equipment production for example. Most civil commissions are run by influential merchant-nobility in the central valleys, though it is theoretically possible for individuals to receive a commission if they succeed in the selection procedure. The vast majority of civil commission contracts are granted by Curia officials.

In theory, commission can be set up for virtually any purpose. In practice, they are restricted by the privileges and interests of other parties (a civil or Curia commission could never step on the terrain of the Legion, for instance) and by their purpose. The majority of commissions are set up to handle complex matters or tedious, repetitive duties. Matters such as granting building commissions or appointing factors to minor colonies are handled by Curia officials in name of the Emperor (in practice, this is the Emperor delegating this power to a Curia representative, who then sets up an administrative section to handle it, funded by a stipend from the treasury and other resources allocated to him. Then generations pass and it becomes just another part of the bloated and corrupt bureaucracy).

Needless to say, if a specific power or duty (such as the appointment of high-ranking officials to provincial posts) is prestigious enough it will never be entrusted to a commission, since this could be used as a political tool.

Some examples of Commissions from Morrowind and lore sources:

  • The "Disaster at Ionith" commission drafted to research Uriel V's failed invasion of Akavir. A military commission helmed by a Lord Pottreid as chairman. This commission no longer exists, since its primary task has been completed.
  • The "Battlespire Incident" commission drafted to research reinvestment in the Battlespire following the Daedric invasion. This commission was probably drafted by the Emperor himself, since his chamberlain at the time took an active role in it as an archivist. The commission ended up advising against reinvestment in the structure. As such it also no longer exists.
  • The Imperial Archaeological Commission, drafted to manage the excavations are Nchuleftingth. Presumably an alternative name for the Imperial Archaeological Society (which we can surmise is a long-lasting commission drafted by an early Emperor). Since all Dwemer artifacts are the Emperor's explicit property, the IAS was likely set up as a commission as the body through which the Emperor oversees their recovery and distribution.
  • The Census & Excise Office is also called the Census & Excise Commission in some sources. Like the IAS above, we can assume that the Census & Excise Office started out as a commission drafted by an Emperor, which over a long period of time ended up a permanent appendage of the Imperial bureaucracy.
  • The "Imperial Commission of the Occupation" is a long-running commission drafted around the time of the Armistice to oversee and uphold its implementation, and the further integration of Morrowind as an Imperial province. Its continued relevancy is proof of its ineffectiveness. The Commission has offices in Ebonheart, as well as other important Imperial stronghods in the area. In order to fulfill its purpose, the ICO has the power to appoint local magistrates who are authorized to judge cases and determine sentences (in matters which do not fall under House law). Among other duties, the Commission of the Occupation "threatens members of cults hostile to Empire and Emperor with imprisonment or death," meaning they are also authorized to persecute and oppress anti-Imperial elements in the province.
  • "Civil Commissions" mentioned in the *Dance in Fire* and *Argonian Account* books. Unlike the commissions above, these are private organizations controlled by merchant nobility. Though fictional, these are modeled after civil subcontractors who vie for contracts from the Imperial government to do infrastructure work in the provinces. Such contracts are usually granted by Curia magistrate.
  • The commission to design and produce specialized military uniforms for Argonia mentioned in *The Armorer's Challenge*. Like the example above, this is a civil commission.
  • The East Empire Company, despite not being named as such, shows all the hallmarks of being a long-running commission-style organization chartered and empowered by the Emperor, and governed by a board of directors.

Other commissions:

  • There is (potentially) a commission tasked with the management and cleanup of a Dreamsleeve incident in Cathnoquey.


Throughout the Empire, local magistrates are entrusted to guarantee the rule of law and justice by judging civil or criminal cases, and determining appropriate sentences for criminals.

In general, magistrates judge cases based on general Imperial Law as well as any local legal customs which may be in effect, whereas local guards execute the judgements of the Magistrates and enforce the laws. However, in some cases (such as Morrowind) a Magistrate may well have a detail of Legion troopers to enforce his judgement and maintain prisons (this is generally indicative of a state of martial law).

While the system of magistrates is considered an example of Imperial modernisation of the provinces, the magistrates themselves are usually anything but Imperial. The privilege of appointing magistrates is often in hands of local lords who use it as a tool to enact their own will on their domains, or to legitimate the power of local dignitaries in the eyes of the Empire. Usually, a major dignitary in a provincial setting will also have magisterial authority from some official source.

Not all magistrates are the same - their power and jurisdiction derive from the office of the one who instated them. So, while a local magistrate appointed by a local lord may have the right to speak law and judge cases, they can only do so within the domain of the lord who appointed them. Furthermore, a magistrate who has been appointed by a higher power can overrule them - in this way, a magistrate appointed by the Emperor directly (or by an organization which represents the Emperor directly, such as the Imperial Commission of the Occupation in Morrowind) may overrule a local judgement.




It must be noted that the player's role and activities inside a guild are not to be considered typical. The typical guild member (be it of the Mages, Fighters or Thieves Guild, or one of the many other trade guilds) is not overly concerned with their career or rank within the faction: most just pay their dues, have a couple of steady contracts, pursue private objectives in their own work spaces, and only call upon the Guild if they need its services.

Some guilds, like the Guild of Painters, act as commission-granting agencies, middle men between a trade man and his patron employer. Others, such as the Guild of Healers or the Guild of Cooks could not possibly work in this way for all their members. For these guilds, guild member offer their services to the public directly, while the guild simply acts as the means of support/oversight/education.

Workshops & Manufactories

Despite being essentially a pre-industrialized society, some places in the central valleys such as Bravil, Leyawiin or the Imperial City featureslarge-scale industry (partly made possible by magical implements). Dyers, tanners, soap-cutters, weaving and silkmaking workshops, alchemical workshops, dry-docks for both shipwrights and ship breaking, clay pits, brick makers, and many more large-scale workshops can be found along the Nibenay's more urban shores.

Of course, such places are not mechanized and do not use steam engines (or their magical equivalents) like the Dwemer did - their vast economies of scale are made possible by the burgeoning population of the central valleys.

Workshops and manufactories are run by wealthy private individuals or by merchant companies. In many cases, these individuals are a member of a trade guild (if their specific trade is protected by law). Guilds themselves do not commonly run workshops directly (as this would mean competing with their own members).