Thursday, March 2, 2017
The Noob 9
J.R.R. Tolkien was, of course, the father of modern fantasy elves; while he wasn't the first person, or even the first modern fantasy writer, to write about elves, the way elves have been depicted in fantasy fiction for the last 50+ years has essentially grown out of Tolkien's elves.
But the evolution of elves since Tolkien hasn't been perfectly straightforward. There are essentially two ways to interpret Tolkien-style elves. By one reading, elves are a wise and powerful elder race living in grand and ornate cities and practicing powerful magic; by the other, they're reclusive tree huggers who live in remote forest villages or tree cities and are skilled in archery and stealth. Many RPGs have dealt with these divergent readings by having two or more separate races of elves. "Urban" elves are often referred to as "high elves" and "nature" elves are often referred to as "wood elves."
Dungeons and Dragons gave us a third major division of elves: dark elves. Dark elves are an outcast race, often evil, often with unnatural skin tones, often living underground, and often at war with other types of elves.
The world of Legends of the Dark Tower has these same basic subspecies of elves: high elves (city-dwellers), green elves (forest-dwellers), and deep elves (outcasts). I've written up a bit of lore explaining how the three elven cultures diverged from one another, and tied it to the lore around angelkin, demonkin, and the Dark Lord Zardan.
I don't pretend that the world of LotDT is especially unique. Arlayne is by design a pastiche world, allowing me to play with and gently mock fantasy tropes. But I've tried to at least make it internally consistent, because it would bug me if it weren't.
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