Hello again and welcome to the next part of the world building series. Today I am going to add another racial description. This is one that I have thought about for quite some time. There will be cultural references made just like in the entry about dwarves, and others to come. Please note that these references are not intended to insult, belittle or in any way screw with an existing culture on earth. These cultural references are in here because I find them to be very cool, and I would love to have more people look into them. Even if it is just the stereotypes that us ignorant fools have come up with.
Ok so who are we looking at today… now that I have you all prepped and ready for conflict and indignation… Elves. That’s right… elves. In our modern earth the idea of elves has been around for a long time. Historically, fictionally, and even holidasically (no that’s not a word… yet). In gaming terms the elves are usually either something like the historical northern European elves or like those in the works of Tolkien. But about twenty years ago a game came out from White Wolf called Changeling the Dreaming, that expanded my point of view on what an elf could be. So for those of you who know the native mythic structures of the first nations in America, the peoples of the Hawaiian islands and some of the Taoist faiths you may recognize names like Nunnehi, Menehune, or Xian Jing. None of these have complete influence on how the elves in this world were created. However from the number of comments I received in private messages about the stereotypes that I used involving dwarves, I thought I would put a lot of the inspiration up front this time.
And now the details about elves in this world…
Shortly after the gods had removed their contract labor of the Titans, the gods started to wander this world they had, had created. And they liked it. One of the best features they felt was the number of rivers and streams that lead to larger and larger bodies of water, until eventually they poured into the oceans on the surface or in the underworld. This rolling flow inspired several of the gods to work together to create the first of the mortal races. The Elves.
The very first elves looked at the world around them, felt the connection to the nearby streams, and left the point of their creation. Much to the dismay of the gods. The gods had intended to create guardians for the waters. Poets and dreamers that would sing their praises. And here their creations just packed it in and left. The gods confronted the elves about their actions, and the elves responded that the world there was beautiful, and the only ones that could change that would be the elves themselves. So instead of being the only danger there was to that beauty. They were going to go some place else. Stunned by the simple truth of the elves statement the gods retreated to watch.
It took some time but that first group of elves followed the waters. Staying in one place no more than a year and then moving on. And in just over five years, they found their way to the ocean. When they reached the ocean they, as a whole race, stopped. The ocean surface was constantly changing. It never stopped moving. The elves explored the shore and found so many kinds of life that they knew they had found something very special. They could see things in the distance, across the surface of the water and as one, they knew what they had to do.
The elves called out to the gods, said farewell to the mainland, created the very first boats, and headed to the islands they could see in the distance. In the islands they found small places. Potentially fragile places that could see the end of very unique forms of life in a storm. They found an ebb and flow to life that felt natural to them. They tied themselves more and more in to the nature around them. And by and large they decided not to care about the gods, the mainland, or anything other than things that would threaten life as it was known.
All in all the elves are a very physically impressive people. Thin and lithe. Their bodies mark them as natural swimmers and runners. Taller than most humans with bodies that hold a deep reddish tan to the skin. Their hair and eyes are usually black. Other colors are taken as a sign that the individual is destined for something interesting.
The elves live in a council style of community. Men and women are treated equally, unless the woman is pregnant. In that case she is given a role of authority. Basically all of her wishes and votes count double. The elves are truly community based. They have no need for a big government. If someone in a village has a problem, they help each other. If a village has a problem, then other villages on the island help. If there is a problem on a whole island then many villages on other islands help. They do not do it because a god tells them to, or a government tells them to, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Yes there are those who dissent from that opinion. Who feel there should be something in it for them for helping. And most of the time the dissenters come around after being helped many times even though they are not asked to help. Those who do not usually take one of the village boats and head for another place.
This dynamic is why other races in this world feel there are two tribes of elves. There are the islanders that they are told about who trade freely and only for what they need. Who wander nearly naked save for the tattoos they bare. And the elves who wander the main land looking for more. They may be physically the same. But in philosophy the mainland and island elves are very different.
As mentioned tattooing is a very important part of the elvish culture. As they never bothered to develop their own written language, they did come up with a way to record their personal history. Tattoos. Each element tattooed on a elf is part of the story of their lives. The placement and the image all mean a lot. And given that island elves only wear as much clothing as the weather requires, it is actually very easy to understand the accomplishments of one another just by paying attention. This openness is hard for any other race to really understand. The halflings appreciate it and a few of their wandering tribes have been accepted by the elves. A group of goblin pirates tried to invade an island once, only to be met with total indifference for almost a month before they left. The elves thought it was the best joke ever played. Because in truth there were seven other villages ready to make war on the goblins. But since no one was harmed, they just let it go.
The deep thinkers among the elves, usually the deep sea fishermen and divers, often wonder if bringing mortal races into such a beautiful world was a good idea. They are usually met with a splashed drink and a more immediate question, like, did you catch any fish?
And while tradesmen may see a primitive people, or simpletons, when they look at the elves. In fact the opposite is true. They have a tendency to grow their boats so they do not have to harm a tree. They use natural caves and trees in combination to make homes and public halls. They know how many kinds of life are on and around their islands and what it takes to live in balance with them. Their medicinal knowledge is vast, and they have composed songs that it takes a whole village to sing. The elves are a wondrously complex and beautiful people. That most others refuse to understand because they are so different.
The single largest issue that the elves get into regularly, is balance. Does the world balance, do the scales balance. Is our relationship in balance. When things are out of balance, the elves act. And sometimes in big ways. If things are in balance then the elves are the most relaxed peoples you may ever meet.
The most common reason for an island elf to be on the main land is because something is out of balance. Which because of cultural differences can be hard to explain. When they can elves visiting the mainland try to stay away from mainland elves and will do their best to stay with halfling caravans. Their wandering nature reminds them of the ocean.
I think that gives a fair introduction to the elvish culture, and some of the things that inspired it.
Now gimme the dice… I gotta make a save vs cold roll…