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Original Elves

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Eclipse Sovereign, May 20, 2020.

  1. Eclipse Sovereign

    Eclipse Sovereign Scribe

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    I’ve been thinking about elves recently, especially the Norse Light Elves, and used that in my writing. My elves are ethereal beings, who live in a parallel world. It’s similar to the world of the wraiths in Lord of the Rings, with objects twisting and flapping like flags in a storm. The elves create bodies for convenience, frosted, misty and pale. They’re practically malnourished in appearance.

    Iron destroys their bodies, forcing them to slowly reform it over time. They will eat anything, including human flesh. The elves aren’t evil, just amoral.

    What do you think? What are your elves like?
     
  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    I always like new plays on the elves. My own come in several varieties and can be quite terrifying. They also are not dying a long slow death, in fact, they match or exceed humanity in the world. They tame a bit as the world moves on. In minor order of sorts:

    My Wood Elves will eat people, though most in Eld do. They just do it more. They also aren't averse to cannibalism and are frequently at war. If it was not for the apocalypse happening, they would have likely continued in that state. They're also the only ones to not only be at war with three different factions, but get into a civil war in the middle of doing that.

    The Snow Elves are basically Viking Elves who ride bear and wolf calvary's and raid down from the cold north and also form armies under the great Baba Yaga. They and the wood elves are usually constant enemies and one can count on their raiding in a timely manner. They are more warrior to the wood elves soldiers and berserkers to the knights.

    The High Elves are kind of asshole rulers and nobility who do not shy away from blood sacrifice, magical enslavement and mind screwing. Even at their nicest they are manipulative pricks. One of their High Queens tried to become THE sun goddess and that led to a civil war.

    The Sea Elves are basically pirate merchants, though the line is thin between both and how the law falls. They are generally nicer and more open then the above two, but they can be incredibly ruthless. And some are stuck in rote traditions that aren't helping anybody and they can be as greedy as delvers.

    The Drow, are well, they were terrible and then the High Elves happened. They have mostly been reduced to tricksters with a juvenile mind set and an addiction to hard drinks and drugs. They are still supremely ambitious and they tend to do the impossible because why not? They are responsible for most of the monsters that show up in the world with their alchemy. They also have clown assassins and are still quite dangerous, but it's hidden behind the veneer of fun loving druggies.

    The Gold Elves are mostly rugged country types and the bruisers of the elven world. They are also amongst the most peaceful, but even they have several paladin orders. They are the most peaceful out of all of the elves in general, but when roused to anger the earth will shake and like their cousins the High Elves, they can and will call down the sun too.
     
  3. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I have an old worldbuilding project all about elves https://mythicscribes.com/community/threads/theological-dark-fantasy-weird-fiction.19616/

    The gimmick I went for is that all Elves were cursed in some unique way, with all the curses being connected to the knowledge of sin existing. The deep elves were not able to go into the sunlight, the dark elves could not show pity, the dawn elves could not become disfigured, the painted elves could not show anger and so on and so forth. If these elves crossed their racial curse they would be turned into 'Orcs', which in this world were chaotic spirits of continually changing forms and desires, thus losing all individuality and personality the elf once retained.
     
  4. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

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    I was never a fan of your standard Tolkien elves, but I do like the Elder Scrolls' take on the Bosmer (Wood Elves.)

    My setting only has dark elves, and they live in the arid regions of the world. They are the world leaders in science and philosophy, but that is all I have for them so far.
     
  5. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    My Elves are inspired by a variety of sources, including Norse mythology. They're broken into three main categories - Light, Wood, and Dark Elves. Light Elves are all fair skinned and have the strongest aptitudes for Arcane Magic but are physically the weakest. They're subdivided into Sun Elves, Moon Elves, Star Elves, and Snow Elves. Wood Elves have tanned or brown skin tones and are the weakest with Arcane Magic but the strongest physically. They're subdivided into the Forest Elves, Jungle Elves, Wild Elves, and Sea Elves. Wood Elves are also the only variety of Elves who have men capable of growing facial hair. Wood Elves are very proud of the fact that they can grow "moustaches."


    Dark Elves have dark skin tones, usually with purple or blue undertones, and are the most balanced between magical and physical aptitudes. They are subdivided into the Desert Elves, Deep Elves, Night Elves, and Shadow Elves.

    There are also some varieties of Elves that are a result of interbreeding between the three main groups. For example, Dusk Elves are a cross between Sun Elves and Night Elves, I think. I'm still working out all of the groups, but these are what I have so far.

    Another aspect about my Elves is that they tend to be rather androgynous looking. Since only Wood Elves seem to be able to grow facial hair, male Elves usually don't have beards or mustaches of any kind. Meanwhile, Elven women are usually small breasted and willowy in terms of physique. As a result, the sexual dimorphism of Elves tend to be more subtle than it is in other races. This is actually why most of my Elven cultures have rather strict dress codes when it comes to the sexes. Even they can have a hard time telling the sexes apart (at least from a distance) so having different styles of clothing for men and women is a means by which they can avoid awkward misunderstandings. It's also why so many of their comedies involve cross-dressing, like you see in some of Shakespeare's works. They're making fun of the fact that an Elven man can so easily impersonate an Elven woman and vice versa. So, there's usually bits like this:

     
  6. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I like your idea. It feels pretty old school, like something you’d see in Northern European folk tales but it also sounds like your elves are meant to be an aspect of the world rather than a set of three dimensional characters within the story. Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for.

    On my end, I took the elf stereotypes and imposed them on humans. So my humans are elves (or vice versa).
     
  7. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    My elves come in a few varieties, though more different tiers of the same thing than actual kinds. The original ones are the Aeshir, quintessentially half-physical and half conceptual spirit. They're immortal because the idea of being alive is an intrinsic part of them, they can do magic because they *are* magic, they're pretty because they *are* pretty, etc. Steeping themselves too much into their non-physical side, usually after getting really old, turns them into Eldri, who basically sentient forces of nature. And through some means I haven't quite concretized yet, there's another type that's too physical to be proper Aeshir, called the Anaan. They still have some natural magical abilities but are more or less in-line with the other sapient species. The Anaan are divided into tribes that are kind of like races are for humans irl. Also it can't normally biologically happen, but there are some ways for Anaan to mate with other sapient species, near-always humans, for essentially personal taste reasons, I haven't thought of a practical reason why not with any other since it needs to be on purpose with magic.

    Most of the elves most people ever see are Anaan, since seeing an Eldri is almost like meeting a god face to face, and the Aeshir dwell in like, pocket dimensions or somesuch.
     
  8. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I would look at the needs within the context of your story. it might help dictate certain things about your elves. For example, if your adventurers/characters are visiting a certain climate/biome etc... that might give a clue as to where and how the elves live. If they act a certain way that is different from humans, why do they act that way? The prototypical elves are arrogant, aloof etc... because they live in their forest homes and don't deal with the races in the larger world, not to mention they feel that they are "superior" to humans due to their longer lifespans. That aloof nature is directly caused by how they deal with outsiders, and is how many writers portray them. In terms of literature and gaming, there are many manifestations of elves already present (gray, wood, aquatic, sylvan, moon, dark etc...), and creating something "new" is a challenge in itself; though it can be done.
     
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  9. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    All I know is that Tolkien never spent much time defining what the elves looked like compared to humans... it is assumed they are all white? But he never said so... something about how they have "light in their eyes" and "grace" that allows you to tell who is who... but never said they were skinny or pointy-eared.... indeed, Cirdan even had a beard?
     
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  10. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I think like with Humans, Elves would have a hair and skin color dependant on their environment. Those that live in the desert might be dark; like coffee with a hint of cream, or if they live in the jungle or forest, their skin might be a similar color to the wood of the trees. Those that live in colder climates might be pale or tanned from the albedo coming up off the snow.
     
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  11. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    That does make them sound kind of mundane. I perhaps should have noted in my own that my elves skin and hair colors vary quite a bit. From the sea elves with skin ranging from light sea green to deep dark blue and with a range of hair colors, though a bit of white hair like drow comes up. The drow range from dark brown to purple skin. Wood and Gold elves are closest to human colors, but with morph the skins look more like bark and wheat. The High Elves take light skinned to an almost literal level, glowing golden skin like a lot of their gold elf cousins, who tend to have an almost metallic hue to them.

    If the aim is otherworldly or just out there elves, colors that only sort of fit in should work too.
     
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  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I completely agree, though personally I tend to think of things from a natural standpoint. I was suggesting that the skin color is often dictated by environment, which might include the need for natural defenses like camouflage, color-changing etc. I actually don't use elves or orcs or most other fantasy races in my stories; there is enough variation among Humans to make an interesting story. That being said, If your aquatic elves live in brightly colored anemone or amid similarly hued underwater caverns, then pink, red, or orange skin and hair could work. If your orcs live in the arctic zones then going gray skin with white hair might be more suitable than your typical green skin and black hair. If they are underground, and consume large quantities of purple fungus, perhaps that natural consumption throughout the centuries lead to purple skin and hair. I think the author can do whatever they want as long as in some way it makes sense for their races to be that way.
     
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  13. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Mine have dark skin, anywhere from tan to ebony black, catlike fangs, and predator patterns in their hair. They're the size and build of old-school D&D elves, from just under five feet to five and a half feet, lithe, beautiful, intensely sexual, and mildly psychic (telekinesis, empathy, sometimes telepathy). They're deeply feral, but they bury it under centuries of dedication to spirituality, art, and sound judgment. This is fun, because every elf is basically a ticking emotional bomb, and when an elf loses their shit it's an absolute horror show. Human idiocy is a wonderful trigger for making elves explode, so it's a fun dynamic; imagine if C3PO occasionally choke-slammed Han Solo.

    My WIP (second series) features a related race who are slightly taller and live in the desert. They're elves, but without getting into spoilers, some stuff going on in that part of the desert has changed them in key ways, which also impacts their society.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
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  14. Vicki27

    Vicki27 Minstrel

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    Compared to some of the above, my elves are quite mundane and ordinary. I have two kinds those of noble or pure blood who have earned the right to call themselves Elves. They are tall, ethereal, feisty, warrior-like individuals who distrust other races. They live feral in woods. All pure blooded Elves have copper coloured skin, silver hair, downward pointed earlobes with either violet or emerald green eyes. The other kind of elf is called Elvkin and they are mixed blood with other races. Most Elvkin have Elven features mixed with other race features. They are considered by Elves as subservient and inferior. Elvkin are used as servants by Elves and other races and are often taken by raiding slavers for use in the pleasure houses.
     
  15. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    Though my worldbuilding notes cover all sorts of elven races, I've never used but one in my novels (so far). Those appeared in my Donzalo's Destiny epic and, though they are not identified as such in the narrative, they are 'dark elves.' Not dark skinned, but living in a twilit world. They are actually very pale, bordering on albino-like. As tall as humans (or nearly), but tending to be more lightly built. The high fay have not yet appeared in my books but I know they exist and are the most similar to humans in general (in more or less Tolkien fashion). The black elves, on the other hand, are dark and adapted to worlds with dangerous levels of radiation. There are certainly other variants that I shall never have the opportunity to explore.

    I do posit that elves (and the fay in general) derive from the same stock, way back, as humans. As do dwarfs and other semi-human races. They have evolved differences in the many (infinite?) worlds they inhabit, as have humans themselves. The entire fay branch is also know as the People of the Air, with humans being the People of the Fire (i.e. being sun-loving), dwarfs/trolls being the People of the Earth, and, somewhat obviously, merfolk being the People of the Water. Yes, the four elements. Anyway the fay also includes all the goblin/kobold/ogre relatives of the elves. There should be countless variants among these but, again, who has the time to figure all of them out, much less write about them?

    Incidentally, though I haven't made this final, I do think most of these races would be mutually fertile if they mated. Or offspring might be 'mules' in some instances. That's something I'll probably have to decide on a case by case basis, if needed.
     
  16. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    BUT!!! Elves who are very long-lived will be VERY slow to evolve! EG, for humans to evolve blue eyes and pale skin to suit certain environments... won't work for elves????

    eg google says: People with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor, according to new research. A team of scientists has tracked down a genetic mutation that leads to blue eyes. The mutation occurred between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.Jan 31, 2008

    suppose humans were elves ... and some 10000 year old elves were still alive.... not a single blue eye among them, even if it was useful vis a vis natural selection

    Tolkien admitted this in his early "House of Lost Play" where a human gets an explanation of "how can the elves possibly have different languages from each other? " The idea of eg, an elvish language slowly changing over many generations doesn't make much sense... the answer the elf gave was that the elves deliberately designed new languages as a repudiation of the past / an intellectual exercise / work of art....
     
  17. SinghSong

    SinghSong Dreamer

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    In the story concept I'm working on, where there's a parallel universe in which magic's existed since the neolithic era, 'Elves' are (or rather, were) the mysterious, unidentified archaic hominid species which diverged from Neanderthals and humans over a million years ago; which, in our world, introbred with Denisovans, contributing towards 4% of the Denisovan genome (higher than the Neanderthal contribution to the Eurasian genome) before being driven to extinction, with the ancestors of these mixed Denisovan populations then interbreeding with the ancestors of Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians to a similar extent; living on on Greater Australia, cohabiting with the aboriginal humans with tens of thousands of years, and only 'dying out' c.12-15kya, on the island of New Guinea. So then, on this parallel magical fantasy earth, where both of these other hominid species manage to cling on to the present day, the 'Elves' are the eldest extant hominid species (who only remain as the isolationist, fervently xenophobic sole inhabitants of Antarctica, and the Kerguelen Plateau, relying wholly upon magic for their continued survival); the Denisovans are effectively pseudo-'Orcs', and with their continued survival ensuring a greater amount of genetic admixture with humans, the Melanesians effectively wind up as pseudo half-Dark Elves...
     
  18. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    How long they live doesn't matter. How early they have children (and how many) would be the deciding factor in evolutionary change. They would just live to see the changes in their great-great-ever-so-great grandchildren.
     
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