On Thu, 25 Feb 1999, Tim Nutting wrote:

> The talk of longevity amongst the elves has brought to light certain
> viewpoints on the varied culture of the Sidhelien people. I know I myself
> have thrown a few things out, but I'd like to hear some other viewpoints
> from the DMs that have run the Sidhe extensively in their games on a few
> topics.

These are very interesting questions. I know we have talked about topics
similar to these before, so some of the opinions that I give below were
heavily influenced by previous discussions, so if describe your pet
theory, just know that you're making an impression on me.

> Death: What does it mean to an elf? How do the living cope?

Elves in Aebrynnis are very "elemental." One theory that has been
discussed (and I quite like) is that elves "spirits" when they die
dissociate into four elemental "spirit substances." It is essentially this
spirit stuff that human wizards summon and use when they "Summon
Elementals." Naturally, elves find that somewhat distasteful, rather like
humans find raising the undead somewhat distasteful (which doesn't mean
that they won't do it themselves at need).

My own thought is that elves find some kinds of death perfectly
acceptable. Death due to accident or to error on behalf of the elf who
died is accepted as a matter of course. Sort of "survival of the fittest,"
if death occured to him because of his own weakness or short-sightedness,
then it's too bad he's gone, but that's the way of the world. On the other
hand, murder must be seen as one of the most heinous of all crimes to an
elf, particularly when done for personal gain. However, the line between
"doing something foolish and getting himself killed in human lands," and
"being treacherously slain by the cowardly humans" is likely to be
notoriously thin, and dangerously sugjective.

> Birth: How do they treat new birth and the very essence of childhood? Does
> an elf mature slower or faster than a human (and please, they ARE magical
> beings, no scientific formulas unless absolutely necessary to illustrate a
> point)

I'm really temped at this point to say something stupid like "maybe
brownies, pixies and other fairie kin are actually elven children." Maybe
that would appeal to someone, but on further thought, it doesn't appeal to
me very much. I personally think that pregnancy is very difficult for
elves, and that "birth control" is very easy. In order for elven females
to get pregnent they must make love in the presence of all four of the
elements, so that there is a "spiritual source" for all of the elements
necessary to make another elven spirit. In addition, the personality of
the offspring could be manipulated in this way: if the parents want and
fiery warrior of a child, they might build a large bonfire as their fiery
element, while those who wanted a "deep" or "mysteriously wise" child
might choose to favor the watery element, and represent fire with only a
single candle. Elves can probably only get pregnant in elven lands, where
the land is sufficiently "alive" with elven elemental force. Plus, it
explains the cavalier attitide that elven fathers are often depicted as
having for their half-elven offspring: they assume that ALL females are
capable of self-directed birth control, and that if the female got
pregnant, it must be that she WANTED to get pregnant. I expect that elves
are extremely protective of their young in the first decades of their
development, but once they have "come of age," they assume that they are
capable of taking care of themselves, and that if they WANT to go off into
human lands, then that's their decision. I suspect that elven development
takes longer than human, perhaps by a factor of ten? That way, at 160 to
200 years old, an elf is considered "independent" from his family. I
suspect that the ties between elf families is not so much to immediate
family members, but rather to their entire clan. Rationale: parents can
spend proportionally much longer time with each other than they do with
any of their children, so I suspect that the ties between mother and child
are weaker than among humans, but that this is made up for my stronger
ties to the extended family. After all, your clan will still be there for
you, even when members of your immediate family have gone away or died for
some reason or another.

> Crime and Punishment: Even though they are a chaotic society, every society
> must deal with its miscreants, and how it does so says a great measure of
> it's future.

I would say that capital punishment is unheard of among the elves. I think
the main reason that many elves see Rhoubhe as an enemy rather than as a
hero is that he actually turned on his fellow elves at the Battle of
Deismaar when the other elves turned to join the gods of light against
Azrai. That was the first time that elf had battled elf in a war, and many
elves still find that unforgiveable. I suspect that Ostracism might be the
cheif form of punishment for heinous crimes. And I mean full-court-press
ostracism, where not even your own family and clan can speak to your, or
even acknowledge your presence. This might even be enforced by powerful
spell, so no one in the elven forest CAN even see you, and the forest
itself "turns against" you, for example like the Sielwode is supposed to
do against human interlopers. Perhaps another form of punishment is to
become "tasked" into a job for the benefit of the kingdom. For example,
the armies of some elven nations might be composed of those who are being
punished for some minor crime. This might be enforced by some form of
minor geas. In fact, the judge himself might be serving out a sentence of
community service for some infraction. On the other hand, I don't imagine
that there is really all that much crime in elven lands, so perhaps that's
not the best idea.