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Thread: elves on a pedestal? (was Battl
05-13-1998, 08:21 PM #1Ryan B. CaveneyGuest
elves on a pedestal? (was Battl
Alright, guilty as charged: I'm a knee-jerk elf-lover.
But I think I have reasons for it, as well.
On Wed, 13 May 1998, Clayton F. Hinton wrote:
> never need to eat or sleep,
Certainly less than humans do.
> are a "good" race (even on Cerillia),
"Good" is, by definition, one of the most loaded words possible.
I think that by the elves' definition, the elves of Cerilia are largely
good and the humans largely evil. If I personally had to say which
species behaves better in the aggregate by my personal standards, I'd side
with the elves. I also feel that the elves' attitude toward human
morality is largely that expressed by the Witch in Sondheim's "Into the
Woods": "You're not good, you're not bad, you're just nice. I'm not good,
I'm not nice, I'm just right." Indeed, I feel that the elves in most
other game worlds and fantasy novels (including Tolkien) are way too nice.
I like to see elves being as capricious and dangerous as the myths make
them out to be.
> are superior to Humans in all respects,
They're pretty clearly superior in quite a few.
> act as "one" even though they pride themselves on their independance,
OK, this I grant you, in some cases. On the other hand, fiercely
independent people are also usually the first to protest and resist when
they feel their freedom being infringed upon: a band of marauding humans
is going to instill a great deal of unity in the local elves for as long
as it takes to deal with the threat.
> and are basically little versions of gods themselves.
This is the mythologically accurate viewpoint. In Ireland, the
names given for the powerful elves (the Tuatha de Danaan) are the names
for the old gods. When Patricius came and the people couldn't have gods
anymore, folklore changed them into elves. When that folklore too began
to pass away, the people began to think of the elves as angels who had not
taken sides in Lucifer's rebellion, and come down to earth to get away
from it all. One could put it as Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman do for
the demon Crowley in _Good Omens_: "an Angel who did not so much Fall as
Saunter Vaguely Downwards."
> Does anyone get tired of putting Elves on a pedestal?
The Cerilian Sidhelien deserve the pedestal far more than the
elves of most other D&D worlds, by my estimation.
> Does anyone wonder why Elves don't just conquer the world and get rid of
> all their enemies?
Often. The only answers I can offer are: they're immensely
outnumbered; they're too disorganized; they don't really want the job of
ruling the world. For the Babylon 5 fans out there, I see Sidhelien
foreign policy as somewhere between Minbari and Vorlon: they don't often
care what the younger races do, but woe to anyone who bothers them.
> You may recall that the did TRY that, but failed because they had no gods.
I really don't think that's good enough. The proportion of
wizards in elven society should be considerably higher than the proportion
of priests in human ones. And wizards ar much more effective in battle
than are priests. Again, it's simply a matter of numbers, organization
> This reclusive, dwindling race of Human-haters does not deserve this type
> of worship in the Birthright game.
They didn't start to hate the humans until the humans
broke their promises not to hurt the trees. The diplomatic history is
similar to that between the Native Americans and the U.S. government: the
elves thought they were sharing land with people who would deal with it
responsibly and keep their promises -- and a Cerilian elf is someone who
has personal knowledge of just how long forever might work out to be;
while the human leadership changed to often and their thirst to expand was
just too great for them to stick to any one treaty for long. Are you
surprised that the Souix killed every member of Custer's army they could
find? Then it should make sense that the elves have a Gheallie Sidhe.
> Perhaps in a Middle-Earth game setting they do, but not here.
As has been pointed out, Cerilian elves are the closest thing to
Tolkien's in any D&D world I know. Indeed, I like them better, as they
seem rather less likely to kill each other, and rather more likely to kill
humans, which seems to me much more logical.
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