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Thread: Elven Frolicking
10-22-1998, 05:27 PM #1Kenneth GauckGuest
Pieter, I think we are both concerned with the same problem, but have
approached it from diametrically opposed directions. That said, I think its
worthwhile to discuss our attempts to make the various races fundamentally
different, so that elves are more than humans with pointy ears and a few
modifiers. However, I am also commited to game balance between the races,
so that players do not bust the game with 32nd level elven wizards who have
another millenium of campaiging ahead of them, while other players are
running around with 3rd level fighters who are grand-children of their
original PC's. I want players to pick a race because they want to role-play
it, not because they can get wacky advantages over the long term.
I will attempt to deal with some of your points below.
- -----Original Message-----
From: Pieter A de Jong
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 1998 11:47 AM
> [I] know of several people who have said just that, in their
>campaigns [like yours] that elves are more interested in
>frolicking than learning. I would suggest limiting ourselves to the
>material that most of us have access to.
My conception of the races was built on much earlier problems with the
over-all similarity of the races. I created my own solution, and then
imported into Birthright. While it might not be "official" that is part of
what makes AD&D great, the going beyond the official. This includes the
practice of some DM's ignoring level limits.
>> IMO, elves practice horiculture. Its low labor, substantially restores
>> soil when combined with a slash-burn and move style of fallow, as well as
>> good way to manage the forests, removing older trees that have begun to
>> and still block the light from saplings. Plus it is so at odds with plow
>> agriculture, that agriculturalists often don't consider it husbandry.
>> Consider the conflict between the American settlers of the 17th century
>> the Amerindians over the concept of land ownership. The Amerindians were
>This doesn't explain those size level 6 provinces that exist in every elven
>domain. The horticulturalist amerindians were never able to support
>such population densities. The amerindian cultures that reached those
>of population density were agricultural societies (eg. mayan, aztec, other
>south-central american societies.
The elves connection with the natural world allows them horticultural
performance superior to human performace. Fallows are shorter and yields
are higher. Additionally the elves meet many of their needs with even older
methods of hunting and gathering. All of this has a "religious"
significance, and hunting without the taboos and customs (esp hunting for
sport) is both irreligious and an offence to nature.
>Secondly are you seriously suggesting that the elves practice the kind of
>and burn farming that has been devastating jungles in indonesia, brazil,
>Slash and burn farming practices result in large-scale deforestation
>removing the forest cover results in large scale erosion. There is not
>high fertility soil under a forest. Once it erodes, the fertility of the
land drops radically.
These practices are harmful under current conditions because we industrial
societies do things on a scale that pre-industrial societies could not. So
in one sense, no, the elves do not bulldoze large tracts of forest, sell the
timber to megalopolises, and engage in intensive tractor agriculture. The
do practice the kind of slash and burn as was practiced by the Brazilian
indians and the Indonesians 600 years ago. An area of forsest is cut down,
no larger than what is neccesary to support 50, or so people, the complete
biomass is left (the valuable timber, containing the majority of biomass is
not removed) to be burned, returning this organic material to the soil. The
ash also acts as a natural pesticide and herbicide. After two or three
years, the elves leave the site and the forest returns. Such a practice
introduces many of the benficial qualities of forest fires in a managed
context, by expert forest managers, the elves.
> Indeed, this might be true in other settings. However, in Birthright, the
>non-human races are no longer presented as caricatures, trapped into
>futility against the human presence. In no other presently published AD&D
>is there an organized kingdom of goblins (Thurazor) that is generally at
>with it's neighbours. Indeed, in Birthright, goblins have been presented
>cunning, capable, living, breathing creatures, not pitiful caricatures of
the worst of
I have known players who considered the humans as the inferior step-cousins
to the other standard races. Using the logic of Ben Franklin, when half the
people think humans are too strong and half thing they are too weak, they
are probably right where they belong. No race should be a caricature of
humans, noble or base. But that should not mean that we toughen them up.
Rather we should add depth to them. If 80% of your population has 1-1 or
1+1 HD, and 5% of your race clings to low level classes, cowardice is not an
irrational responce. Rather than considering Goblins stronger than they are
written, why not consider them masters of guerilla tactics, both in offense
and defense? It makes the game richer to consider that each race has its
most favorite tactics and its least favorite tactics. To assume that all
races use the same strategies, but some have better stats, is to loose alot
Keep the goblins physically weak, use the Huge gobins, and rare, high level
Elite goblins as surprises. Given them cunning, stealth, and deviousness
sufficent to make them viable in the role they are in.
>> >Yes indeed, that is your opinion. It is of course obvious that elves are
>> >all useless gits who cannot focus on anything beyond merriment
>> >Or in yet another way of saying it. Of course humans are a superior
>> >species to everyone else, were human aren't we.
>> Boy, did you misread me. Who said elves are useless? Who said humans
>> superior. I sure wish I could spend all my time gaming or in other forms
>> recreation (lets call all that frolicking). Everyone I knows wishes they
>> had more time to do the things they really want to do. To think that if
>> lived many hundreds or thousands of years all we would do is more of what
>> do when we're in our twenties is not only condradicted by actual human
>> tradjectories, but is a real assertion that the human way is best.
>Interesting argument, so you say that it is not possible for an elf to
focus on a
>subject as effectively as an adult human. It rather strikes me as
>the elven personality is childlike from a human perspective, unable to
focus on a
>single subject (other than their own gratification) for any length of time,
>if it is desirable. Again, published literature for the Birthright setting
>agree with your analysis. If they were so limited in focus, how did a
>smith learn to forge Tighmaevril weapons, how did they enslave the goblin
I said that they prefer not to focus on the kinds of power that humans do.
War, adventuring, and levels are asides to them. Humans seek their own
gratification in adventure, war, and raw power. Elves seek their
gratification in other ways. Neither is more child-like than the other.
What is important to the elves are the arts. Frolicking is not frivolous.
Shakespear (plays and poetry), Rameau (dance music), Bach (choral music) are
not frivolous wastes of time. Pieter, I see from your signature that
you're a grad student in mechanical engineering. I, myself am a grad
student in History. Let's not reduce this to a debate about whether the
arts or sciences are more important. If we had been considering the dwarves
all along, again we would have differnt things to say about these subjects.
For them, the arts are mearly an expressive form of craftsmanship. Here are
a people who love labor.
> ... something else that has been proposed for the Sidhelien : Dual
> What do you think.
Its fine with me. It makes sense.
> I have noticed that you missed one level limit there :) ! Elven mages:
>level advancement. This would indeed seem to suggest that they are far more
>devoted to the pursuit of magic than any other field. Including that of
>elven bards being limited to 9th level, the lowest limit of any field that
>pursue, which actually suggests that they are not quite so devoted to
>you might think.
Or it suggests that being in part magical, they are so naturally atuned to
magic that even when frolicking they are becoming one with nature, one with
the lands, and one with themselves. To dance in the land's most magical
spots, to sing of nature and its arcane secrets, to compose in harmony with
the wind and forest. In doing these things the elves come to better
understand the magic of the world.
Perhaps its the word "frolicking" you don't like. It does convey a kind of
frivolousness, but, I would argue, that only conveys the human
misunderstanding of what the elves are about.
10-22-1998, 06:02 PM #2Gary V. FossGuest
Kenneth Gauck wrote:
> The elves connection with the natural world allows them horticultural
> performance superior to human performace. Fallows are shorter and yields
> are higher. Additionally the elves meet many of their needs with even older
> methods of hunting and gathering. All of this has a "religious"
> significance, and hunting without the taboos and customs (esp hunting for
> sport) is both irreligious and an offence to nature.
Hmmm. I think there might be something of a contradiction here. The elves are
"one with nature" yet able to manipulate growing cycles? That sounds like an
unnatural alteration of natural processes to me.
I much prefer the idea that the elves are able to live off the land because
their diets and food requirements are satisfied by easily obtained, natural
items. That way, the elves don't really need to farm much at all. They might
do some minor kinds of farming for special occasions or for high yield crops,
but for the most part they can eat dandelions and daisies and be just fine.
This makes the human activity of farming particularly perverse in their eyes and
part of their objection to the human tendency to cut down trees to grow food.
10-23-1998, 12:45 PM #3TriztGuest
Gary V. Foss (GeeMan@linkline.com) wrote:
- -> I much prefer the idea that the elves are able to live off the land
- -> their diets and food requirements are satisfied by easily obtained,
- -> items. That way, the elves don't really need to farm much at all. They
- -> do some minor kinds of farming for special occasions or for high yield
- -> but for the most part they can eat dandelions and daisies and be just
What about, elves lives on the magical source, as long as there are magical
source around them they dont need to eat. In "magic dead" areas they have to
eat as all other living creatures.
- -> This makes the human activity of farming particularly perverse in their
- -> part of their objection to the human tendency to cut down trees to grow
Humans do cut down more trees than they need, you don't need any wood to
warm up your house.
//Trizt of Ward^RITE
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