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Author Topic: Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams  (Read 4988 times)

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Offline Agar

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« on: February 03, 2003, 12:21:47 PM »
Since the time of the first tales of fantasy, the fae creatures that elves are representitive of have been the outlet of humans dreams and hopes. They are what we strive to look like, how long we want to live, how wise we wish we could be. Elves are a metaphor for the goals of human hope.

There have been a great many takes on elves, Tolkien's proud immortals, D&D's short, long-lived folk, Tad William's alien and reclusive sidhe, even Shadowrun's futuristic towers of arrogance. Many fae have been called elves, and many elves have been simply called fae, the distinction among them limited to the individuals point of view.

I was recently inspired by watching "The Two Towers" to offer a detailed look at a different sort of elf, the same as many, but different in some deep and meaninful ways. I hope this rendition can answer some of the age old questions about these immortal creatures.


Once a person begins to get the feel for fantasy, they begin to analyze it and invariably come to the same question as some point. "If elves are immortal, why aren't they in charge?"

It seems logical that a race that has forever to aquire and pass on knowledge would simply breed the other races into submission and simply outwait thier enimies. If age will never claim you, militarily you should become the master of stalemate, holding them in check untill time destroys them in a way you are immune from.

One possible answer would be to look at the breeding of elves. If children are rare, then having the numbers to overwhelm an opponent would be hard to come by. The other races can simple spawn like rabbits and win through force of numbers. But simply saying they don't reproduce that much strikes me a weak cop out.

Instead of simply not having children as often, what if the elves couldn't have children without a mate? That seems obvious, but rather than taking the casual view of mating we lesser creature hold, what if the elves also embodied out dreams of perfect mating? In a perfect joining of two people, each person is everything the other would ever need, now and forever. Forever for an immortal is a long time indeed. Being able to only join with one person for all eternity, one person and one person only, takes on a bit more consideration when that eternity will come to pass in your lifetime.

Consider that magic is, by definition, outside of nature. Elves, being immortal, are then outside of nature since they cannot die like other creatures, or landforms for that matter, mountains will crumble before an elf dies of old age. As elves are outside of nature, that makes them magical beings. Then may not be able to do all the nifty tricks, like become invisible at will or live inside a sapling, but they have a magical nature all the same.

Their magical nature will likely affect their lives and interactions with one another and other creatures. To reproduce, the would have to join with another person on a deeper level than other species. Some animals take mates for life, but few so called higher creatures choose to. The magical nature of elves may make reproduction impossible unless the involved persons are joined for life.

Such joinings are not something taken lightly and so children are scarce in the coming. Even once joined, an immortal's reproductive cyle is likely to be rather slow. With out the need to replace elders lost to age, the immortals body may not become fertile untill there is need.

A side effect of these complications to reproduction would be the fact that rape, while still traumatic, would never have unwanted offspring. To an immortal, abortions would be as alien and unthinkable to them as it would be unthinkable for humans to eat their young. Sexuality for recreation may be a casual affair, but with out any joining, it cannot produce anything other than stress relief with an occasional flurry of drama.

The elven race would almost be gaurenteed to be pure, as only a rare, and likely mentally imbalanced, immortal would choose to join with one outside the elven race. No matter how long lived that other race may be, the elf would watch their mate wither and die, and any chldren from the union would also wither, as would grand children and so on and so on. The loss of a mate would be very traumatic for an elf and often lead to madness and death.

While elves are immortal, they are not invurerable. They may be struck down like any other creature. One that has been bound in a union with the deceased elf would now only be half a creature. Widows and widowers could not re-marry, as it were, the bond is not "death do us part" but forever. Divorce isn't possible, the magic that gives them their immortal lives is no longer seperated, but joined, compeletly, absolutly, and permanatly. The spirit of the departed may well remain in the union, a ghost for a lover, gone but not yet left.



This point of view for elves may help to answer questions about their influence on the world and even possibilities for any half elves. After I spend some time thinking on it, I will attempt to answer the second most asked question "If I'm hundreds of years old, why am I first level?"
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Offline Ria Hawk

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2003, 04:18:25 PM »
Wow.  Gives an entirely new meaning to "soul mate".
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2003, 11:04:40 PM »
Wow that was deep. That had to be the best little thing on elves I have seen in a long time. I guess the only reason I thought that elves weren't in charge of the world is because they are a race who strive for the beauty and truth in everything, and when you have to belittle another race just to be on top, well they couldn't find it in their hearts to do that. They would kill only when it becomes nessasary. They can't even put down a dwarf because for centuaries they would feel bad. Plus when you have your own free city you dont mind because they won't come to take over. You just don't do that to a chosen one

*made since in my head*
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2003, 11:37:11 PM »
But what about drow elves?
They're hateful, mean, evil, murderous, treacherous and all that shed monkey fur in a hand drum.
Why aren't they in charge?
No wait, I know! It's because they hate the sun, live underground, and have strong equipment that dissolves in sunlight!
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Offline Adel

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2003, 12:42:39 AM »
in most accounts that I have reaelves are immortal creatures and this is the standpiont on whic I will speak.  however  remember reading from somewhere or another that elves were indeed not immortal they only possess great longevity.  They appear immortal to humans because of this longevity it is for this reason that the elves continue to age at all if they were immortal then when would they no longer age?  though on many diffrent terms I disagree with what this author is saying I did find his rendition of elves interesting!
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2003, 01:01:40 AM »
In my games, I don't make Elves immortal, because if they all lived forever, even counting those dead of war and disease and famine, would overpopulate the world.
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2003, 11:50:34 AM »
No not really they have a slow population rate not like the rabbits we humans are they would wait untill they found "the one" to have children
plus the women wouldn't be able to bear children untill she was like 500 or something
Trees!!!
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Offline Adel

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2003, 06:48:04 PM »
Then they are meant to suffer?  When would they stop aging?  chances are they wouldn't...  alot of time we see seemingly young elf not the old elf that has to deal with the pains of old age if they be immortal beings then they know wha lays before them.  Immortality is not what many would make it out to be.  What of their non-immortal friends they will be forced to watch them wither and die.  To know that they will not join them in there final rest would be to me disturbing.  This only leaves the elves with two possible alternatives live forever with the pain.... or suicide.
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2003, 07:56:57 PM »
'sniff' poor little elvsies.
I agree that we normaly only see a 'young' elf, where are the 'old' ones? :?
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Offline manfred

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2003, 05:45:13 AM »
One little option I saw somewhere:

The Elves throughout their lives 'grow older', but little in the ways of looks, they may look not-so-young, some powerful, both young and ancient, as Tolkien masterly described them...

Until they are going to die. The last few years, or maybe only the last year they grow old in all ways, much more rapidly than other races. Their hair becomes grey, their skin looses the youthful look, they gradually loose their strength.

The reason Humans think Elves are immortal, or do not get older, is that such an Elf usually leaves all society, and lives alone in free nature, or with a few friends only, awaiting the end.
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2003, 07:15:48 PM »
Or as Tolkien put it They went of to the Grey Havens Frodo went there too.
 :cry:
Trees!!!
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"Dont talk to it, Merry! Don't encourage it!"

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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2003, 10:07:31 PM »
Well, perhaps the Elves never age, but simply pass away. Instead of dying, as humans do, the elves cease more gracefully: They literally pass away, drifting off into the eternal sleep, peacefully and gracefully.
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Offline Strolen

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2003, 05:57:38 AM »
Or maybe the younger ones take the elders to a ceremonial slaughter in a tradition orientated patricide (<- that word right?) and lay them on a hollowed oak, rake a dagger across their major arteries in each of the four extremeties and bleed their life into the dark stained tree directing the flow towards a siphon which collects the life's blood which they drink to extend their own lives.

....or not....

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Offline manfred

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2003, 06:01:02 AM »
oh... missing a certain emoticon...
...this will do it: :shock:

That's an option, too.

Now who said the drow are unnaturally Evil?
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Offline manfred

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2003, 06:21:59 AM »
Here it is finally:

 :what:

The brand new emoticon for Strolen's Citadel. Use at your own risk. But I see there are a few posts deserving it.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2003, 04:19:53 PM »
You have no idea how long I've been waiting for that emoticon!

Cool!  :what:
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2003, 06:24:01 PM »
Wow I never imagined elves to be killers...
Now where is that majigger?
Trees!!!
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"Dont talk to it, Merry! Don't encourage it!"

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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2003, 06:36:29 PM »
What about drow?! Why aren't you listening to me?!

WHAT ABOUT DROW?!!!!

 :evil:
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Offline Almatari

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2003, 08:07:56 PM »
Haven't had experiance with Drow, yet.
Trees!!!
A tree fell in the forest. A man didn't hear it. He is now dead.

"Dont talk to it, Merry! Don't encourage it!"

"Don't touch it! You don't know what it is!"

Offline Ria Hawk

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2003, 11:55:45 PM »
Now, see, I don't much care for the way that Drow are always presented as being evil.  In Antasia, the world I'm working on, drow are just subterranean counterparts to elves.  There are evil drow of course, but then, there are evil humans, dwarves, gnomes, goblins, cat-kin, halflings, centaurs, even evil spectrals and faeries.  Even evil elves.  They just happen to be mistrustful of most everyone else, and there is the small matter of a plague that originated in drow territories in the dim past, which didn't help their image much.
Which is all interesting, and also off topic.  The way I see it, elves and related races might have longer lifespans than humans, but not be immortal or near immortal.  Maybe two hundred years on the outside.  As for aging, an immortal race would probably work very hard on finding out how to have eternal youth.  Old age is not for sissies.  Anyway.  End of rant.
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Offline Adel

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2003, 12:24:12 AM »
I like the Idea of them just passing... Pherhaps it is all ritualized as well were their spirit is returned to the earth; which most believe is where their spirit was to originate from.
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Offline manfred

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Elves: A new look at the classic embodiment of dreams
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2003, 09:40:00 AM »
Slightly out of theme, an article about Elves on GameGrene.com:
http://www.gamegrene.com/game_material/what_do_you_do_with_six_million_elves.shtml

With several inspiring ideas, even if few about their death.
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