Saturday, April 3, 2010

Elves




As I have promised I am going to present my conceptualisation of elves for the Middenmurk setting, or rather, for the “Northern Marches” – the ad hoc term I will use for the (semi) civilised lands nearest to the Middenmurk dungeon. As a matter of course I am assuming that the Middenmurk will be flexible like any other Megadungeon, having certain assumptions about flavour and texture associated with it but fairly much unattached to a specific setting so people can stick it where they want it. Which is a way of saying I’m not making a sandbox but I am doing bits and pieces of setting stuff.

So, I conceive of elves of the Northern Marches as being very much unlike the elves of Tolkien’s legendarium and, as such, fairly much different from elves as presented in D&D and role-playing games in general. The starting point for the approach I am making is the idea of elves as being objects of fear to peasants within the Mediaeval paradigm. Elves are fundamentally supernatural entities from beyond the fields we know that visit the world of the everyday to cause trouble for inscrutable reasons. Elves can be helpful but are associated with sickness and ill-luck, with nightmares, curdled milk, blighted crops and, worst of all, stolen babies.

The word elf is etymologically connected with the word oaf, which is associated with the idea of the changeling child; weird, uncouth, fey and shunned by the community. In this context elves can be seen as a kind of mythic explanation for a variety of intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders and mental illnesses. They can also be the explanation for manic creativity and savant abilities and psychopathic disregard for the well-being of others.

The idea of entities that will come in the night and steal your child is a deep-rooted and primordial fear. I guess this makes elves the perfect primitive psychological projection of the unknown other.

I am fond of the idea that elves are different and otherworldly, but not necessarily graceful and beautiful. They are merely different. They exist in a kind of strange parasitic relationship to human communities, possessed of uncanny secrets of the otherworld and with great capacity to help mankind, but a capriciousness and proclivity to inflict harm with casual detachment.

Additionally, and significantly, elves live among human beings like cuckoos. Elf PC’s will be changeling children or foundling urchins or uncanny strangers who are tolerated for a while by the superstitious peasants of the Northern Marches. They will always be on the margins of society, however, and always be a little odd. The association of elf and oaf – a word derived from elf - informs my conception.

Devil’s in the Details: Elves (oafs, changelings, hogboys, wights, Yule-lads, Fae)

Yes, I am well aware that James Maliszewski has already presented elves in this format. I have the utmost respect for James and think him a capital fellow, however, his Eld are from a fundamentally different paradigm to my elves (though they are similarly quite sinister) and I think there is space enough for both to exist (and let’s face it, James is the king of the OSR blog-o-sphere and I am a swineherd from the outlying provinces).

As I did with dwarfs I am presenting some aspects of elves as being analogous to real-world human psychological and developmental disorders. I do this in the interests of remaining faithful to the original subject matter as I see it, i.e. within a Mediaeval paradigm, these disorders are explained by and attributable to supernatural agents. Any offence caused by this approach is unintentional and I apologise in advance.

Many Elves (d20 thrice)

1. Speak in a raspy whisper.
2. Fear the colour red, won’t touch it and refuse to wear red garments.
3. Laugh at funerals, cry at glad tidings and show no compassion.
4. Make strange bestial noises, seemingly without being aware of what they are doing.
5. Have the ears of an ass, which they hide beneath some kind of headgear.
6. Appear to be perpetually adolescent, but with ancient eyes - or - appear wizened with age, but bright-eyed and hale.
7. Have a tail like a cow’s, which they conceal beneath clothing.
8. Have a strange floral or herbal fragrance.
9. Don’t tend to come in out of the rain or in any other way avoid discomfort.
10. Skulk around bone-yards, crossroads and other such ill-omened places
11. Feel compelled to build cairns of stones and little idols of sticks at random places.
12. Have the eyes of a falcon and stare at people in an unsettling manner.
13. Eat insects, snails and spiders.
14. Occasionally go into a trancelike state where they murmur in a long-forgotten tongue and rock back and forth.
15. Creep around at night and do odd jobs for people.
16. Dislike iron and avoid touching iron objects.
17. Have teeth which are disconcertingly sharp.
18. Periodically give away money and valuables.
19. Have skin which is cold to the touch.
20. Sing songs of unearthly beauty.

Some Elves (d16, 1d3 times)

1. Have a vacant, open-mouthed, idiotic expression.
2. Have no sense of privacy or modesty.
3. Have a sharp, feral, countenance.
4. Fear the sun and shroud themselves in layers of cloth to avoid its rays.
5. Harass and ride livestock to amuse themselves.
6. Take delight in frightening people with cruel pranks.
7. Cast a pale shadow.
8. Tend to attract the attention of various small animals.
9. Habitually sleep in ditches, up trees, or under hedges.
10. Are androgynous.
11. Creep around at night and peer through windows.
12. Crave butter and cream and will pay almost any price to get hold of it.
13. Are very lustful and seductive.
14. Move with feline grace.
15. Destroy things for no apparent reason.
16. Are very tall and gaunt or small and childlike.

Common Travelling Gear (d16 thrice)

1. A hazel switch
2. A small pouch containing (1d6) 1. Henbane 2. Dried Elf-Cap Mushroom 3. Datura 4. Mandrake 5. Belladonna 6. Diviner’s Sage
3. A stone that looks like a toad
4. A tall dunce’s cap
5. Ragged finery, tattered and befouled
6. An ancient bronze dagger.
7. A bone flute.
8. A sprig of mistletoe
9. An old shillelagh
10. A shortbow and quiver of arrows
11. An archaic corselet of bronze scale armour
12. A staff inscribed with ancient secrets in runes or ogham
13. A rote or lyre
14. A lock of human hair
15. A collection of elf-shot
16. Golden chains from a barrow-tomb

6 comments:

  1. Love this reconceptualization, especially the idea that they are cursed/blighted

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good stuff, Ive given a lot of thought to reconceptualization of the "standard races" myself, though I went with a more science-fantasy-ish transhuman elf, I dig your elves with a "wrongness" to them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. On March 11th, 2019 a user submitted the reports of the radon levels found inside their house which were 5 pCi/L. This is more than the safe level recommended by EPA which is 4 pCi/L. this one report is alarming because if one house can have elevated levels of radon at their home, other houses can be on the verge of danger too. Radon Testing in Collinsville has become important now because of this situation and a thorough home inspection including radon testing and mitigation is the need of the moment. Real Estate inspection in Collinsville is mastered by Hawley as their team is experienced and they fulfill all the requirements necessary for a successful home inspection. In addition they have a bundle of positive customer feedback and five star reviews so you do not have to worry about the privacy or security of your home while letting a stranger inside your house. Book an appointment today and let us take care of all your inspection related worries.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you have decided that due to any reasons, you want to get your house inspected then you must do it in a proper way. We suggest that you do your proper research before letting a stranger inside your house. Know about their company, their work and do not forget to look for reviews and recommendations. Positive word of mouth about a home inspection company or a specific home inspector is always a plus. Hawley Home Inspections have Certified Inspectors in South Western Illinois on board with them so you can rely on those home inspectors completely as Hawley ensures to send the best Home inspector Collinsville IL for your satisfaction and a thorough inspection. They are certified by InterNACHI and ASHI hence there is no need to worry about their reliability. They will visit your house, complete the inspection thoroughly and provide you a detailed report about the analysis and recommend you further help if needed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When it comes to home inspections South Western Illinois, Hawley Home Inspections secures the top position because of the exceptional customer service it provides and the certified professional home inspectors that are a part of this team. The fact that both of these constituents are unavoidable while considering to book an appointment for a home inspection for your house or the property you are about to buy. There are many factors that force us to get a home inspection done but if you are living on a property and it has been more than a year that you got your house inspected, this is the right time. If the situation is worse and you have never gotten a home inspection done before, it is never too late to start now. You can just start by giving Hawley Inspections a call and leave the rest to us. We promise to send you the most home inspector Illinois MO has to offer and we claim 200% customer satisfaction as well, so what are you waiting for?

    ReplyDelete
  6. savannah cat price

    savannah cats for sale

    savannah kittens

    pug puppies for sale

    savannah cat for sale

    Serval kitten for sale,
    savannah kittens for sale, serval cat for sale, savannah cat for sale, savannah cats for sale, f1 savannah cat for sale, serval cat for sale, exotic cats for sale, f1 savannah cat, f4 savannah cat, cats for sale, savannah cats, Serval kittens for sale, savannah kittens for sale near me, savannah cats for sale near me, bengal kittens for sale, bengal kittens for sale near me.

    ReplyDelete