Elven Warfare

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Created On 6 June 1999
Last Updated On 6 June 1999
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1999

The Aldryami wage war in many ways. They have a standing army made mostly of Yelmalians and High King Elf cultists. They also have skilled shamans and magicians. Aldryami are skilled botanists and use biological and botanical warfare.

Standing Army

When fighting non-Aldryami, the Marching Aldryami is often used. This is a well-trained force of bowmen and spearmen, normally from the Yelmalio and High King Elf cults. They rely on their archery skills but are quite capable of fighting hand to hand with their long spears and Yelmalio training. There is a high proportion of Light Sons and Wood lords in the Marching Aldryami.

Within the Elven Forests, the Marching Aldryami use tactics which rely heavily on stealth. They are expert at hiding and shooting from cover. They even have magical arrows which are unaffected by Forest cover, allowing them to take pot-shots through bushes or trees. Many elves have magic which allows them to hide without being seen or to move silently through the forests. Quite often, an enemy band will be harassed with arrow-fire all along a forest trail only to enter a clearing and meet a body of spearman.

The Standing Army is equipped with a spear, a bow which is usually magical and alive, a suit of armour which may be of bronze but is usually made of wood or bark and is specially grown. There arrows and spears are grown from special plants which reduce their cost.

Aggressive Plants

Aldryami Forests are unique in that they are defended not only by their sentient inhabitants but also by their plants. Some of these plants are magical in nature, such as the Warriors of Wood, others are aggressive, others are passive. All are used by the Aldryami to guard certain areas or to bolster defensive forces. Certainly in the most part, they are deliberately planted in pre-planned locations and are often magically grown so they are available for use quickly.

Ambulatory Plants

These can walk around and include Warriors of Wood, Dorastoran Death Weed and, if you want to use them in Glorantha, Triffids. They are usually unintelligent and can be treated in the same way as animals. Many elves have spells which can control their actions and these are used to direct them against the enemies of the Forests. Warriors of Wood are often planted around Dryad Groves and can be awakened through special magics, when the trees begin to attack enemies should worry.

Aggressive Plants

These are unintelligent plants which have certain trigger mechanisms which cause the plants to act in a certain way. These effects range from the firing of darts or pollen/spore clouds to reflexive actions such as the Venus Fly Trap which devours prey. Quite often these are placed in strategic areas by the elves and all local Aldryami know their whereabouts and can avoid them. So, a forest trail may have tendrils lying across it which when tripped cause a hail of darts or a cloud of poison gas.

Passive Plants

Some plants act as passive defences. These include tangle-thickets which prevent passage; Screamers which scream if members of a Race or Species, such as trolls, humans, broos or virgins, pass by; Plant Spies which allow someone attuned to them to see the area around them; sleeping grass which knocks out anything that crosses it; paths which lead away from sensitive areas and to ambush sites.

Poisonous Plants

These are the equivalent of terrestrial plants such as Poison Ivy, Giant Hogweed, Stinging Nettles, Belladonna and so on. Some exude poison on contact so anyone walking through a thicket would be exposed to poison. Others release poisonous spores or gas to choke those nearby. There are plants that burn and produce poison, some which inject poison through spines and thorns, others are poisonous when eaten and still others have poisonous sap and are used to tip arrows and darts.

Some of the poisons are mild, others severe. In RuneQuest terms, they have a potency dependent on season and size which is matched against CON to have various effects, normally causing general hit point damage but occasionally causing sleep, paralysis and other effects. Some poisons will have antidotes, some will not. One thing is certain, the elves breed poisonous plants faster than people can find antidotes.

Botanical Warfare

Aldryami are experts in growing and using plants. They use these to wage war in several ways. Against farmers they sow weeds in fields, they sow poisonous plants to kill cattle and sheep, they use plants to clog springs and streams to kill fish. Roads can be blocked with bushes, houses can be pulled down with creepers, food and water can be infected with plants. When combined with the Accelerate Growth spell, these tactics can be devastating. For instance, there are several trees which grow very quickly, if a seed of one of these is planted beneath a building and several Accelerate Growth spells are cast the tree will bring the walls down. Certain plants grow to the exclusion of others. So, Aldryami use these to colonise areas, especially in Aldryami wars. For instance, the Rhodedendrum plant grows quickly, blocks out the light and turns soil alkaline, making it very difficult for other plants to grow around it. Other plants attract insects or animals which will eat the surrounding vegetation.

Animal Defences

Aldryami do not only have plant defences, they also use animals. Many Aldryami sacrifice to Gorakiki and can control insect swarms, usually of bees and wasps, but also of ants, beetles and so on. Aldryami also have access to various Command spells which allow them to control other animals. Dryads have the power to control any unintelligent creature born in their Grove and many Aldryami deliberately bring pregnant wolves, bears, tigers, or the eggs of Dinosaurs, snakes and other reptiles to dryad groves so that the young are born there. This gives a very strong defensive force, especially where fierce animals are prevalent. Thos raiding the Forests of the Elder Wilds often are faced with rampaging dinosaurs or sabre-toothed tigers.

Where Aldryami fight Aldryami there is a use of animals in the warfare. This can include the use of insects to kill other aldryami, for instance Dutch Elm Disease is caused by beetles. Certain insects will feed from particular plants and can devastate them if used correctly, so the Embroli dynasty were killed by flower-eating insects. Where trees are pollinated by a particular animal then predators may be introduced to destroy the pollinators. This may take many years to come to fruition, but Aldryami wars are often drawn-out affairs. Deer may be introduced to eat the bark of trees and kill them.

There are many examples in the real world of symbiotic relationships between plants and animals where the plants are defended by animals, whether they are ants which live within a tree or grow plants themselves to eat. A good idea is to look in a Natural History or Ecology book to see how plants and animals interact.


There are many ways in which Elves and the Aldryami fight. These are not limited to normal fighting or even spell use. They are master herbalists and botanists and tend to use all available resources. This makes them potent enemies, more flexible and innovative than many people give them credit for.