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Created On 6 June 1999
Last Updated On 6 June 1999
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1999
These are notes on Elven Culture. They have not been arranged into a full article as yet and are really only bullet-points at the moment. These notes are not all-inclusive and are only sketches of certain parts of Elven Culture, but I hope they are interesting and can spark ideas off in your campaigns.
I will address the following areas:
- Elves are Gatherers and can eat fruit, bark, roots, nuts, berries and leaves and can also drink sap. Food Song ensures that the plant's spirit is returned to Aldrya and that more plants will be grown in future. If the plant is out of season, elves can use the Bear Fruit spell and can use the Accelerate Growth spell to bring plants to maturity quickly.
- Elves are also cultivators, planting thickets, avenues, house trees, etc. There is a tribe of Amazonian Indians which plants an easily climbable tree beside any tree found of a certain species which has a thorny trunk and delicious fruit so they can access the fruit easily in future. I can see Aldryami doing similar things.
- Industry - I see Aldryami Forests as having their own industries such as Coppicing, making rope, growing flax/linen,logging, growing herbs and medicinal plants, making poisons. These are more like cottage industries than heavily organised industries, but are quite effective.
Yellow Elves should be disadvantaged in cold or dry climates - look at the effect on Agimori for example. Other elves would be affected depending on their type - Green Elves from Pine Forests would be quite happy in cold climates - Fronela has skiing elves, for example; Eucalyptus Elves would prefer a warmer climate; Brown Elves sleep through the winter and would be sluggish in a clod climate. It all depends on the type of forest.
- Look at the diversity of plants grown today through breeding and hybridisation techniques. Imagine a culture based on plant growing with the addition of magic. Elves should have many plants available.
- Elves can grow new plants in a number of ways.
- They have the Grow (Plant) skill (or Plant Lore if you prefer) which can be used to cross-breed plants in the same way as new Insects are formed using the Insect breeding skills in the Gorakiki cult.
- Minor variations in plants can be made using Divine Intervention to Flamal, but this only affects a single plant and is rarely passed on to its descendants.
- Major variations in current plant forms or the creation of new plants may be performed using HeroQuests to Flamal, Aldrya or one of the other Plant Deities. Hon Eel gained Maize from an Elven Lover, presumable through HeroQuest to an Elven Spirit.
- Metallic Plants - Elves have access to certain metallic plants, in particular Copper Arrowheads, Spear Heads and the Ironwood Tree. However, I would be very dubious about whole plants made from metal.
- Weapon Plants - Elves grow plants to use as weapons and armour. These include spears made from coppiced trees, armour and shields made from tough bark, helmets made from gourds, elf bows, arrow bushes and wooden swords. Elves spend time setting up the weapon trees and a mature Aldryami Forest will have a continual supply of weapons from these trees, certainly enough to equip their armies in normal times. When they have need to produce weapons quickly, they can use the Accelerate Growth spell or the Bear Fruit spell to enhance production.
All within a forest compete for dominance. This results in Elf Wars, often quite nasty. Occasionally this involves combat but often growing competitions suffice. The idea that elves live in some incredibly nice forest where everything thinks the same way and is in harmony is a foolish one. Elves are as aggressive as any other race descended from Grandfather Mortal and Dryads, Runners and other Aldryami have their own agendas.
- Elves have developed many nasty plants from varieties of real world plants (Fly raps, Millweed, Bogwort, Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Nettles, thorn bushes, Giant Hogweed and so on) to new varieties (plants which spit poison darts, triffid clones, giant man-eaters, strangling vines, sticky bushes, Warriors of Wood, Tangle Thickets, Dorastoran Death Weed and so on).
- Deadly plants could be randomly scattered through an Aldryami Forest or could be deliberately planted in key areas. Thus, vital paths could lead to clearings covered with carnivorous grass, murder vines may hang overhead, enticing fruits may be poisonous, avenues may be shooting ranges for drat-spitting trees. Simply exploding in a cloud of pollen could be devastating as any Hay fever sufferer will tell you. Imagine the Forest scene in the Evil Dead and you can see what Elven Forests can be like.
- One of the most potent defences in a Forest is the force of Dryads. A Dryad can command any unintelligent creature born within her Grove, this can include all kinds of nasties- bears, wolves, tigers, dinosaurs - depending on where the forest is. Many groves contain Warriors of Wood ready to be activated, all are defended by runners and elves.
- The argument that elves would not mine their own forests is weak in my opinion. In my game, elves use ropes, bridges, ladders and walkways or simply climbing on interlinked branches. Only invaders, elven armies or animals use the paths.
- Elven Culture is as varied as Human Culture and is impossible to generalise, except that they normally live in Aldryami or other Forests.
- There are examples of elves that live as nomadic gatherers, sedentary "farmers" to industrialised elves in mixed forests.
- Nomads move around gathering food or using seasonal previously planted foods. They can derive shelter from tents, woven shelters, hollows within trees or amongst roots. They may be solitary groups or may trade with other groups of elves.
- Settled elves have various forms of shelter ranging from simple covers, tree houses, carved out trees, underground burrows, platforms in the canopy, net towns or whatever. They can include gatherers, farmers, traders and industrialists. Farmers cultivate bushes, trees and other plants which they deliberately plant and tend. Industrialists use local specialised plants whether through carving, weapon-making, armour-making, logging drug making and all manner of things.
- However we try to generalise Elven Culture, the Elven Sailors of Jrustela with their Plant Ships will have a different culture to the skiing nomadic elves of Fronela.