Quote from: "Ancient Gamer"
Hi and welcome svincent!
First of all, I like this idea. Always had a soft spot for elves and your elves are no different. Good one!
Thank you. I'm just happy that my first submission warranted praise.
Second, this goddess seems more of a bane to the elven race than a boon. Actually, she sounds kind of evil.
Certainly. She doesn't think she's evil, of course. I'll do a more complete writeup of her at some point, but think of her as the ultimate bad stereotype of the PETA/Greenpeace/whatever crowd, not all that smart,
with wierd romantic ideas of nature goddesses, and divine power.
Dangerous and scary. Evil? Probably -- I don't make those distinctions in my game. I prefer "misguided".
If you played such a quest right, all the time depicting the sea elves as the bad guys, I think you could end up with a nice onion layered campaign.
I like this - the sea elves are already supposed to be a mysterious seafaring race - and wood elves seem peaceful enough in the woods.It hadn't occured to me to run them that way. I like that.
Ohhh, another idea: The wood elves could have strange memories of their former lives. Misunderstood urges concerning their family, friends and home village. These elves could be the "bogeymen" of your setting. Dark, hidden figures skulking around the village and forest late at night. Heard breathing heavily and sometimes seen for a fragment of a second in the darkness, before they run off into the woods. Perhaps sometimes, the romantic desire they felt in life is twisted into something else, and they stalk their former love until they claim them as their own, dead or alive...
THAT is excellent. Quasi undead -- because they are, really. Controlled by Gaia, nearly animated, reformed in her image... I wonder if it's possible for them to come back? Go to Comment
As mentioned in our first installment (The Elves of Zetacron), the sea elves are a subrace of elves, attempting to resist Gaia's siren Call. Wood elves are those who have succumbed. Succumbing to the Call means total obliteration of self.
When the world was young, elves frolicked in the fields, studied great magics, built beautiful structures, and maintained vast libraries of the world's knowledge. All the normal classic elf stuff. Hope was high, and life worth living.
Then Gaia erected Her "sacred" grove, and instilled the Call, a longing to travel to this grove and be transformed, into every elf in Zetacron. With this one act, Gaia managed to taint every individual elf's life, through all the long years since.
Those elves who were not immediately sucked in by the temptation fled the land on ships. They were the anscestors of today's sea elves. Legends of the earlier days (and some artifacts that have not been plundered in the great Reaverwars and by the Atlantean civilization) have been passed down through the generations of sea elves.
Gaia's Call is a perpetual, urgent force, drawing all elves towards a sacred grove in the center of the Arden Woods. All elves instinctively know the direction of this sacred grove. Incidentally, this makes them fantastic navigators.
All elves are constantly aware of Gaia's Call, and must actively resist it. Drugs that impede clarity of thought are eschewed by elves: they can't afford such weakness. Resisting Gaia's Call is a constant struggle, weakness means death.
While Gaia's Call is perpetual, it is not constant. The intensity of the Call waxes and wanes with the moon, the seasons, and the alignment of the planets. It is strongest on the summer solstice (especially if there is a full moon), and weakest on the winter solstice (especially if there is a new moon). When it is strongest, elves often chain themselves to their ships, or lock themselves in rooms. Only the strongest and most steadfast of resolve can resist Her Call then.
The Sacred Grove:
The Arden Wood is a vast, primeval forest: untouched by axe or fire. The sacred grove lies in the center of this forest, near Gaia's arboreal fortress. It is a circular glade, about a hundred feet across, and is surrounded by tall silver trees of an unknown (and unnamed) species. The air near the grove is always fresh and clean, and as you approach it, you feel more alive, almost younger.
Any creature entering the grove undergoes a radical transformation. Streaming with blinding, internal light, the creature writhes in pain. The old or the weak usually don't survive the internal shock. The transformation takes about ten minutes to complete. If you stand near the edge of the grove long enough for an unsuspecting bird to fly in, you can witness the process first hand.
The transformation has three aspects:
1. The creature is painfully and radically transformed into a more "fitting" specimen of its race (according to Gaia). Elves become more elflike, slender, and beautiful. Humans become more muscular and taller. You get the idea.
2. The creature gains a supernatural bond with nature. Plants will grow at the creature's command, and the creature can communicate with all natural animals.
3. The creature's mind is altered. The specific effects vary by creature type, but this usually entails: (a) installation of complete devotion to Gaia, (b) eradication of personal ambition or drive, and (c) complete erasure of all memories of one's former life (including any skills).
The third effect, of course, is the true tragedy. After the transformation, you are no longer yourself: you can no longer recognize your friends (but see below).
Any creature, elf or not, can be transformed in this way. As a result, there are humans (transformed into Adonises, of course), "ideal" dwarves, "perfect" gnomes, and all manner of other transformed creatures within Gaia's forest. Not many, though.
These transformed creatures serve Gaia, tending to the forest and the animals, or rest, relaxing, gazing off into the dstance. They live outdoors, sleeping in trees or on the earth. They are never bothered by the predators in the forest.
Transformed creatures are invariably extremely happy and content. They will argue (if you can get any of them to bother having a conversation with you) that they live in a Utopia, and that the transformation is a wonderful thing.
Only elves, however, have the "gift" of the Call.
Madness of Gaia:
The transformed creatures stay in the Arden woods, unless specifically sent on quests by Gaia. They will actively resist attempts to get them to leave the forest, even becoming violent.
If forced to leave against their will (perhaps by knocking them unconscious and dragging them out), they become desperate. They will try anything, even pretending to be cured, to escape and go back.
If prevented from going back, they go insane, inflicted by the Madness of Gaia.
The Madness of Gaia is caused by the selective return of memories from the creature's past. The creature remembers aspects of its previous life, but not in the way they happened. People that were once deeply loved now drive the creature into a rage. Activities that the creature once enjoyed, it now works to eradicate.
The creature becomes bloodthirsty and violent. It is not uncommon for victims of this madness to stalk and kill former friends and lovers.
Comments? Criticisms? Creative Kudos?
In particular, I'd like to hear about logical holes in this stuff -- I'm ok at coming up with ideas, but not the best at fleshing them out consistently. Go to Comment
"The Elves, long-lived and beautiful, range far against the hour when their Lady lures them back to get their souls devoured."
(from the Lay of Zetacron)
As mentioned in our first installment (The Elves of Zetacron), the sea elves are a subrace of elves, attempting to resist Gaia's siren Call. Wood elves are those who have succumbed. Succumbing to the Call means
total obliteration of self.
Resisting the Call of Gaia:
The Call of Gaia is, literally, a force of nature. It is powerful, unyielding, and shapes nearly every aspect of the lives of the sea elves. Thus, any description of sea elves must start from the persepective of the Call.
The sea elves have lived with this curse for many many years, and through these years, many strategies have been attempted, some more successful than others.
Principly, resistance is personal. A clean environment, impeccable personal hygiene, severe emotional control, and intense focus are the fundamental tenets of a sea elf's life. If these falter, only time prevents the elf slipping away in the night.
The Call of Gaia varies in intensity. It is worse on nights of the full moon, and nearest the Summer Solstice. At these times, even the most severe personal efforts often fail. Elves will lock themselves
inside their cabins, rooms, or homes, until the worst of the call is done. The keys are kept by a member of the Order of the Mind, who is usually able to resist the call himself.
Very rarely, an attempt will be made to rescue a sea elf who has been lost to the Call. Often these rescuers end up being lost themselves, and so it is only if some particularly important member of sea elf
society is lost that any attempt will be made. More often, the lost elf is mourned as dead. Sometimes members of other races will be hired to attempt the rescue.
The current set of strategies manages to cut the number of victims claimed per year dramatically, but nothing stops the flow entirely. Old and weak sea elves are particularly suseptable: when the mind or
body grow weak, it grows increasingly difficult to resist the call. Many individuals fail every year.
To combat the depletion of their population, sea elves breed like maniacs. The average female sea elf produces eight to ten offspring.
There is an easy way out, if one chooses to take it. Qetzlcoatl, the god of chaos and evil, promises all sea elves who travel to His land and agree to worship Him that He will free them of the Call. Some, particularly those who are particularly morally corrupt and selfish,
take this option. They travel into the frozen north, and are never seen again. Is this better than succumbing to the Call? Who can say?
Sea elves are humanoids, about as tall as a short to medium height human (they very rarely exceed 5'10 in height). They are slender, but wiry. People who have the misfortune to wrestle with a sea elf find them surprisingly strong. They exercise regularly and are rarely sick.
They have fine, angular features, with pointed ears. They shave all body hair but eyebrows, that are a bluish-white.
Their eyes are haunted and intense. Grays and vivid blues are common.
The most striking feature of sea elves are their artificially enhanced bodies. They cover themselves with extremely intricate tattoos. They are heavily pierced and connect these piercings with fine gold chain. Sometimes elves make further modifications, such as embedding shaped objects under the skin.
Sea elves must be focused and controlled, or they are taken by the Call. As a result, they display obsessive compulsive behaviors:highly organized environments, very careful speech, and extremely methodical behaviors.
They are extremely driven and task oriented, as a result, they become very good at the skills they use. They excel at most things they set themselves to: they are particularly known for sailing and artistry.
As a result of always being drawn towards Gaia's sacred grove, they make amazing navigators.
A seafaring culture, they survive principally through trade with other races. Because they excel at sailing, they are able to drive their ships faster and in rougher weather than other mariners, giving them an edge over other traders.
They are excellent artists, and often trade carvings and other artwork (their knotwork is especially prized), as well as trade goods produced by other nations.
They fish to supplement their food supply, but prefer to get their food through trade with other races.
To replenish those lost to the Call, sea elf society encourages breeding. One's status in the community is based on how many children one can produce. The average female sea elf produces eight to ten offspring.
Children are raised communally. Family attachment is present, of course, but mistrusted: too many are lost to the Call to truly trust emotions such as love.
Scholars from other races (and their own) are fascinated by the Call and its nature, whether it can be cured, etc. Some scholars study the Call, living on their ships and in their cities. Others work to help those who have been transformed and rescued from Gaia's realm.
No transformed elves are ever allowed aboard a sea elf ship or into a sea elf city. Those who have been transformed are pities, but also feared: it is generally thought that the presence of such weakness among good, pure sea elves will bring weakness to the community.
Many sea elves live on colorful, angular ships, trading between nations. Their ships are among the fastest in Zetacron, but this is as much a testament to the fine seamanship of sea elves, as the ships themselves.
The remainder of the race live on cities on floating artificial islands, made of ships and other large floating barges lashed together. Permanent structures are constructed on these islands, the architecture full of bright colors and harsh angles. Intricate carving and craftsmanship are evident on all sides.
An odd feature of sea elf homes and ships is the containment of rooms that lock from the outside. These rooms are used when the Call of Gaia is strongest, the keys are kept by members of the Order of the Mind.
Elf cities are very very clean. There are always elves scrubbing every surface, repainting structures, and repairing damage.
Sea elves are not religious. They mistrust gods in general, after the curse inflicted upon them by Gaia. Really, it's hard to blame them: the gods of Zetacron are not particularly... praiseworthy.
However, the sea elves are particularly extreme: and are the closest things to atheists that there are in Zetacron.
he Order of the Fist:
The Order of the Fist is an organization of sea elves who have trained their bodies to be deadly weapons, focusing on nothing else. They are dedicated to defending the sea elves against physical attack.
The Order of the Mind:
Some sea elves that take the concept of mental control to the next level: focusing on nothing else. They seclude themselves on ships and in the cities, seeking internal control and higher wisdom.
Those who succeed in this, who are able to control the Call, are admitted into the Order of the Mind. These are the elves who are trusted with the keys restraining other elves on the summer solstice. They are also elves of great wisdom, and are the keepers of racial knowledge.
Some sea elves give themselves up to Qetzlcoatl (god of chaos and evil) in exchange for being free of mind. They travel to His northern fortress and agree to serve Him.
Their tattoos come alive, shifting around their bodies with their thoughts, and turn black: they are imbued with a piece of Qetzlcoatl. They gain dread powers, and are rumored to be among his most loyal servants.
I don't think this entry has the edge that some of the previous ones did -- I like the dark elves, but I don't think I'm using them to their potential. I also think that something interesting could be done with the Fist and the Mind.
I also think that sea elves need another serious twist to be really interesting -- they're too wrapped around the Call and its effects -- but I can't come up with it. Ideas? Go to Comment
Yeah -- that's how the sea elves feel -- but the gods of
Zetacron aren't selfish... exactly.
Or rather, they all aren't.
One of the central themes of Zetacron is the Roman
pantheon idea: imperfect gods with human qualities, but
ratcheting it up a notch. Most of the gods (other than
Qetzlcoatl) think they're doing good, or at least that they're
not doing evil. They're just people, with all the flaws that
normal people have. But... with divine powers.
This will become clearer when I start talking about something
other than the elves. Or maybe when I write up the wood
elves. Which I promise I'll do Real Soon Now, although maybe
Thanks for the feedback! It gives me something to ponder.
You guys are great! Go to Comment
quote from: "MoonHunter"
A question I have is how are Humans being absorbed by her forrest? Do they not know any better and they enter the forest? Does the forrest go out and "recruit" new members?
Interesting idea -- I think Gaia does occasionally attempt to recruit new members, particularly individuals that she would like to control or eliminate.
Some creatures do wander into the sacred grove unknowingly. The bird example in the writeup implies this: if you just happen across it, it's like a nasty trap. It's plausible that a human might get lost in the Arden Woods and wander in.
The thing I had in mind, though, is that some people go to become assimilated because it is a pleasant alternative to suicide. Transformation results in an elimination of your past, a new beginning: not everybody would think that this is a bad thing. People coping with loss, escaping from a questionable past, things like that.
This'll make a little more sense once I've posted the wood elf's side. Hopefully I can pull it off. Think Huxley's _Brave New World_. There's a compelling argument that it's not such a bad thing to get assimilated. Not one that I personally believe, but there's no accounting for the tastes of the mentally modified. I want to make the situation a little
more morally ambiguous.
Quote from: "MoonHunter"
Again, about how long has the diety been calling the Elves?
Forever, basically. There is some prehistory that elves remember, before the Call began, but pretty much through all recorded history the situation has been going on. The situation is "stable": elves are continually being lost to the Call, breeding replaces them, and the numbers of the sea elves ebb and flow, but they never quite lose.(except in the sense that they lost long ago: to be enduring this torture in the first place).
Quote from: "esaquam"
Question about the logic of the situation: Are the elves extremely long-lived, near immortal?
Nope. Elves in Zetacron live longer than humans, but not indefinately: perhaps twice as long.
They were originally designed by the Creator god (Zeus) to live extremely long lives, but Transformed elves don't live that long, and the stress of the constant vigilance against the call takes its toll on the sea elves' lifespan. So, it's rare that any elf lives past 200.
I think I prefer the breeding program, where elves are flowing towards the forest (which is why I chose the short lifespan). The tragedy of the situation is not as evident if it never claims any victims that people can see. Which is kindof harsh for the poor sea elves, but there you have it.
Many more questions that I have to think about more, though. Thanks!
And thank you for all the praise. I'll admit to cherry picking one of my favorite ideas from my campaign world to start with, but the compliments are very gratifying. More than I expected. Go to Comment
"You can't make flivvers without steel-and you can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage." - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
As mentioned in our first installment (The Elves of Zetacron), the wood elves are a subrace of elves who failed to resist Gaia's siren Call. Succumbing to the Call means total obliteration of self.
Embracing the Call:
Sea elves spend their entire lives fighting against the Call of Gaia. Eventually, however, age (with senility), sickness, or just plain weakness causes them to give up. This is called "embracing the Call", and the sea elves refer to those who have embraced the Call "the lost".
Once the Call is embraced, the called elf suddenly feels at peace. The mental strain he experienced throughout most of his adult life is suddenly gone. While still compelled to travel to the sacred glade and be transformed, he is completely free of stress.
The transformation itself, of course, is quite unpleasant (see the Call of Gaia). Fortunately, being transformed spares one the memory of the transformation itself (as well as all other memories of one's life), so no worries there.
And this is how a wood elf is created.
Transformation Isn't a Bad Thing:
The odd thing about the transformation is that, despite a lifetime of resisting the Call, all the trouble sea elves go through to avoid being transformed, once you're actually transformed, you're happy.
Really happy. Happy like most normal people can't comprehend. You have no problems, no cares, no worries. Your food is taken care of, your safety and survival is assured. You are a member of a community that loves you and accepts you unconditionally.
Detractors would argue that this is missing an essential component: that of striving, becoming competent, gaining recognition, and the deep satisfaction that comes thereby. Unfortunately for intelligent beings, such striving involves conflict, self doubt, and ultimate unhappiness. The transformation removes the need for such satisfaction: one feels complete without it, and thus, the transformed are the only truly happy people in Zetacron.
To some people, this ultimate happiness (the sort of thing that many people in many worlds have tried to achieve with the Perfect Drug) is very attractive. Others abhor it.
Wood elves are the epitome of what one would think of when you hear the world "elf". They are muscular, tall, beautiful, and they seem to glow with an inner light.
They have long, blue-white hair, delicate pointed ears, and stunning, angled, features.
Their eyes are vivid blue or grey, and have a strangely vacant look that goes along with the distance in their personalities.
When you meet a wood elf, you are immediately struck by their distance. They never seem to be truly involved in any interactions with others, appearing detached and remote. Their speech is slow and vague, they seem mostly incapable of decisive action.
As you talk to the wood elf, though, you come to an odd realization. Wood elves are happy. Incredibly happy. Free of needs, wants, and cares, wood elves are at peace: they would do a Zen master proud.
Imagine sitting in the shade on porch of your home on a comfortable chair. You gaze out onto your property, on a perfect summer day: the smell of fresh cut hay in the breeze, your loyal dog sleeping in a patch of sun by your feet. You stretch, relax back into your comfortable chair: you're experiencing life as a wood elf.
Wood elves live in the Arden Woods, free from hunger (food is provided by the woods), danger (no natural predators will harm a wood elf), or discomfort (they sleep on the heather beneath protective trees in the rain, under the stars when it's clear).
Wood elves are responsible for tending to the forest. They cause weeds and unpleasant plants to wither and die, and helpful pleasant plants to grow. They search for sick animals, and bring them to members of the Gaia priestesshood for healing. They clear away dense undergrowth, and tend to the mulch-lined paths. This labor is not very difficult, and wood elves typically work for only an hour or so per day. As a result, the Arden Wood is a well-tended forest, not at all like an unruly natural forest.
Wood elves abstain from art, science, learning, philosophy: such things only lead to questions, and ultimately, to depression: ignorance is bliss.
Sickness comes rarely, and when it does, it is usually remedied with a quick trip to the fortress of Gaia, where one of Her priestesses removes the disease. Sometimes wood elves don't come back.
Wood elves never die of natural causes. They merely vanish, not returning after one of their trips to the fortress of Gaia, where they are humanely and kindly euthanized.
Wood elves are utterly devoted to Gaia. They owe her their lives and their happiness. She has truly caused them to "live together on Zetacron in peace and harmony, " as they say.
They will accept any order from Gaia or her priestesses, and perform it to the best of their abilities.
The point here is to make the situation morally ambiguous, thus adding something to the situation.
Like the sea elves, I find the wood elves kindof two-dimensional. I need some kind of twist. Maybe something about both races that gives some depth.
Some trait of the races that somehow carries through the transformation?
Something completely unrelated to the Call/transformation plot arc altogether? Maybe -- they're kindof obsessed right now. Hrm.
Quote from: "Scrasamax"
...This god might offer his aegis against the call of Gaia, say in exchange for services, or some other price that seems pretty good at the time. Given the choice between free will and Gaia-drones, most prices might seem pretty good....
I really like this one. I had aspects of that, with the dark elf cult going off to Qetzlcoatl, but then they're removed from play. I should bring them back, or better yet, give sea elves the choice of several unpleasant options. I've got a few gods that'd love
the services of some hapless elf followers... Go to Comment
Do you use this worksheet yourself? And if so, do you have any
examples of a filled-out worksheet you could spare? I think it
would make an excellent companion to the article (which I loved,
by the way -- I've started applying your ideas to my campaign
Thanks for the huge amount of effort that went into this
article! Go to Comment
In a city where the justice system features judicial dueling, plaintiffs and defendants are permitted to request a champion to take their place in the duel: Someone chosen by lot from among the foreigners in the city. When anyone first arrives, they are given an enchanted ceramic pendant that marks them as a candidate for "court duty".
Wealthy folk entering the city are often escorted by burly guards, paid to carry pendants on their behalf: They elude court duty in that way.
Adventurers may seek work as a rich man's proxy or may find themselves magically summoned to serve as a champion.