Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Elves, Enchantments, and Elvis

Elves will tell you that they are the eldest of those-who-would-be-man, and the greatest. Few would gainsay them this... to their face, anyways. Certainly Elves are puissant in a wide range of abilities - they can be cunning thieves, mighty warriors, adept sorcerers, and puissant servants of their gods - and frequently can perform in multiple spheres at once, something few other races can manage.

But although powerful, Elves are also limited - they can become mighty indeed, especially when choosing to specialize in a single field of study - but they cannot match the heights to which Humans can reach in their sole class. Elves can live, it is said, for centuries - perhaps even millennia - but this lifespan brings with it a mindset that is curiously incapable of changing and shifting with the times, at least in the elder members of the species.

Although not as differentiated as, say Dragons are, Elves are still found in a wide variety of species. Although a number of lesser sub-species are also known of, the following are by far the most common in all-that-is -

  • High Elves - Most elves are members of this sub-species, and they are considered the standard by which all other elves are measured. They have, to a large degree, integrated into "common" Malastrian society (which has bent as much in their direction as they have bent in its - it is because of the large High Elven population that many cities in Malaster have such large parks, woodlands, and other growing, "natural" areas in them). 
  • Grey Elves - Actually one of the more uncommon sub-species, outside their Isderayan island kingdom of Maranthil. Grey Elves are reputed to be mighty sorcerers and wizards, but are rarely seen - and more rarely identified, for they often travel in disguise. There are rumors that they Grey Elves were responsible for whatever caused the Diaspora - but this is held to be true of nearly every culture that is not Isderayan, Human, High-Elven, or Dwarven in nature. 
  • Sylvan Elves - sometimes called "Silver" elves, after their hair, which is commonly silvery in nature. Sylvan elves are those who have not forsaken the woodlands and forests of their ancestors - for the most part - and while not actively xenophobic, they do not relish contact with outsiders, and many Sylvan kingdoms... "strongly encourage" traders and visitors to keep to the towns and cities that they have set up as trade centers. 
  • Dark Elves - with a reputation as vile as theirs, it is perhaps unsurprising that few Dark Elves were brought from the Old Country during the Diaspora - and being unskilled at best at sea travel (for the only seas they are used to are the dark and placid waters of the Underdark), only scattered remnants of the once mighty Aldryani kingdoms now remain. Those Dark Elves who have survived are both pitied and distrusted, and few show their faces outside the small enclaves they have created for themselves. 
  • Wild Elves - when explorers from the Old Country first se foot on the Malastrian continent, they found elves already living there. Xenophobic and hostile, these tribes make little allowance for trespassers of any sort - even Elven ones. They are stronger than most Elves, and hardier as well, but their relatively small numbers, hostility to anything from outside their own tribe (even other tribes of "wild elves" - and their distaste for modern "technology" makes them an endagered race on Malaster. 

Some have it that elves are exclusively sylvan dwellers, and shun cities and towns. This would be quite the revelation to the many High and Grey elves who make their home in the great cosmopolitan centers of Malaster and Isderay.

Trade is done between the various cultures and sub-species of Elves and most of the rest of those -who-would-be-man, to a greater or lesser extent - High Elves are, naturally, nearly indistinguishable from humans in their pursuit of the art of trade, and while their goods are often uniquely identifiable as Elven in nature, they are nonetheless comparable to those created by the finest Human or Dwarven craftsmen. Grey elves specialize - to an extent - in alchemical and enchanted goods, while Sylvan elves are experts in botany, herbology, and small-scale agriculture of various sorts. The Dark Elves - to the extent they trade with the other species of those -who-would-be-man - deal in far darker and less wholesome good - but also in various treasures, minerals, and substances unearthed from the bowels of all-that-is. Only the Wild Elves seem to do not trade with others - and even this is by no means a settled thing, for rumors and legends speak of villages that have survived harsh winters only with the aid of nearby Wild Elf tribes.

Enchantments can be broken down into two basic types - those that are cast upon an object or device, and those that are cast upon a person. Although many enchantments are part of the enchantment/charm sphere, not all of them are - the primary thing differentiating an enchantment spell (as a category) from a spell in the same sphere (Invocation, for example) is their duration - Enchantments are usually of an indeterminate, and often indefinite, duration.

Enchantments intended for an object are used to enhance (or afflict) it in some fashion - they can render a sword unbreakable, or preternaturally keen, they can reduce the weight and apparent bulk of armor, or cause a stone to glow with power when rubbed. While rarely permanent (with out additional spells being cast), they can be of substantial duration - some lasting months, or even years without enhancement.

Enchantments cast upon a person are often of a more sinister bent - most such enchantments (like Charm Person) are intended to short-circuit or bypass entirely the subject's will, emotions, or sense of self. Many are questionably evil in nature, and for some, there really isn't much question. Nonetheless, they are a common school of study, and not all uses of such spells are, in fact, inimical. This does not, unfortunately, prevent the unschooled and unlearned from assuming that anyone with the title of enchanter is capable of clouding the mind and befuddling one's will.

Elvis has left the building.
(okay, okay, I ran out of topics starting with E, and the elf topic ran long. Shaddup...).

1 comment:

N. R. Williams said...

Nice to meet you. I have elves in my book, but I don't distinguish them in this way.

I noticed your lack of comments so I just want to encourage you. There are a lot of people in this challenge. I have found that 90% of people will follow you back to your blog when you leave a comment. If you wait, then eventually people will make it to you. I started at the end, twice, and that is why I am here now.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.