About Temple Zero

The Temple Zero Society (abbrev. T0) is an association of admirers of the elaborate backstory of the Elder Scrolls series of video games. The extensive world-building is conveyed through a wide variety of short texts of all genres, as well as concept art and the games themselves. The sum of these various sources constitutes a body of work usually referred to as the game's 'lore.'

Over the years, fans of the series have gathered online to discuss this lore, and from this environment grew the idea for Temple Zero, which is a rather particular sort of fan site.

Why 'Temple Zero'?

Temple Zero takes its name from a secretive organization that appears in Elder Scrolls' lore. Little is known about Temple Zero, but it consists primarily of conspiracy theorists, revolutionaries, intellectuals, and heterodox thinkers, who are highly critical of the Cyrodilic Empire and generally entertain Marukhati philosophies. Furthermore, they appear to have access to information not generally available to the public, and have a history of spreading that information against the will of the Empire. For this reason, they are often portrayed as frauds, charlatans, or heretics.

What is Temple Zero?

The community out of which Temple Zero has grown centered around Bethesda Softworks' online discussion forum. Over the years, a number of regular forum users came to favor a particular subset of the Elder Scrolls lore, which tended to portray the universe as more exotic and alien than conventional fantasy settings.

Whereas discussions from the community had previously centered around dissecting the "factual" truth of the universe, to these users the "truth" had basically been agreed upon. Instead, they began to focus on the aesthetic aspects of the fiction and the ways certain texts stood out among the vast array of sources as creating an especially interesting world. It was this sense of aesthetic that later came to be labeled 'monkey truth.'

What is monkey truth?

'Monkey truth' is a particular aesthetic which recognizes the world's inherently fictional nature. Though the 'lore' has often been treated as if it were the record of some actually existing universe being recorded by these texts and images, a 'monkey truth' creation will above all attempt to present a world which is profoundly beautiful and magical. In such an aesthetic, internal consistency takes a backseat to marvel, which is far more important.

A monkey truth creation therefore is one which is successful in achieving the sense of an alien and exotic universe, avoiding standard fantasy genre conventions to achieve an overall sense of alterity, while still containing a successful narrative.

The term itself is at least a decade old, though it became a commonplace descriptor after writer and game developer Michael Kirkbride applied it to al Bede's "Orc Creation Myth". It has been summarized to mean "a story so good it should have been included in the game."

What does Temple Zero do?

This website, therefore, is a collection of fan-written texts which we believe have achieved that quality. Nothing on this site is canon, if such a thing exists, and it all springs from the imagination of fans of the series, not anyone who has ever been a part of the Bethesda Softworks' development team. Though it is obviously not official, we will leave it to our readers to decide if it is "true".