DISCLAIMER: I haven't really read many theories about this yet myself. I like to do my research and formulate my own, then once I come to a conclusion, I like to see what other theories people have concocted. So if this has already been theorized, I apologize.
I do not believe that the Dwemer are alive in any sense. Not in Mundus, Oblivion, or anywhere else. Not in another time either. I also do not believe that they are all "dead" in a traditional sense. I believe that their endless pursuit of knowledge and power ultimately lead to them being erased from existence. Considering the entire elder scrolls universe is a literal dream, I believe that tampering with the heart of Lorkhan may have somehow revealed this to the Dwemer. Thus, they zero summed and blinked out of existence. Much like how the majority of people awaken as soon as they become aware that they're in a dream.
Their ability to communicate telepathically also may explain why they all vanished at the same time when the truth was revealed to whomever discovered it. That is, except for Yagrum, who wouldn't have gotten the memo (being in Oblivion at the time) and is still blissfully ignorant that neither he, nor anything around him truly exists at all.
The tribunal may have discovered this, but learned how to willingly stay in the dream, with the ability to manipulate everything around them, basically making them gods. Just like how those who can successfully figure out how to lucid dream can do the same in real life. Then there are those, like me (and perhaps the Dwemer) who are forced to wake up the moment they become aware that they're in a dream.
Vivec's vanishing may also be explained by this. He may have willingly decided to "wake up" after so many years of lucid dreaming. I believe this is what it means to truly achieve CHIM. Those who have are the ones who know that it's all a dream.
To explain why their creations, ruins, etc. still exist in Mundus, I'd simply ask why wouldn't they? Objects have no sentience. For all the other inhabitants of Tamriel who know nothing of the dream, of course it would all still physically exist to them, just not those who created it. Think of it. If I toss a stone, but then for whatever reason God (or whatever you believe in) decided to snap his fingers and make it so I cease to have ever existed at all, but he did so after the stone had already been tossed, would the stone not still be where it landed when I threw it?
I believe that they were once, but are no longer a part of the dream. I do not believe we will ever see them again, and if my theory is correct, I'm okay with that honestly.
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© Post "I’ve got a theory about why the Dwemer disappeared and would like any and all feedback. I’m a long time fan of the Elder Scrolls games. Ever since I got my copy of Morrowind in 2002 as a 9 year old boy. I’ve never posted here before. Please correct me if I’m wrong about anything." for game The Elder Scrolls.
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