Friday, October 1, 2021

Minaria: Elfland

This is the first post in a series, perhaps. My version of Minaria, extrapolated from the map, manuals, and pieces of the boardgame, Divine Right.

Humans are not welcome in the shadowed and quiet forests of Elfland. This antipathy is ancient. In the age following the fall of the Lloroi Empire, the Elves of Neuth (as they call the great forest in their own language) viewed the primitive tribes that they encountered as they ventured from their home as little more than clever beasts. The years have taught them that those beasts can be dangerous; they have learned to be wary of humans, but not to respect them.

The Elves believe themselves to the heirs to the Lloroi, possibly even a direct continuation of that great race. They take pride in being the only culture to withstand the Cataclysm without a reversion to barbarism. They prefer not to discuss the crumbling spires of their half-buried, ancient capital of Letho or the much reduced extent of their lands.

The Great Forest is relatively unspoiled by human standards. Their craft and science (they do not call it magic) is such that their communities often blend into their surroundings. Only another elf might know that they were there.

Humans who have dared to enter the forest easily become lost and often have returned with their memories completely gone. Those are the ones that return at all. Elven rangers patrol the wood with hounds whose howls are uncannily like human voices in lamentation and whose all too human faces hold horror in their eyes. Few elven settlements would give shelter to human stranger, raised as every elf is on tales of the malice of the beast Man.

"One day," say the elven lords to their knights when they are feasting in their hidden halls. "One day our host will ride forth and scatter the human rabble before us."


Dick McGee said...

So a more fey, hostile, and openly racist take on the elves than usual. The setting has canonical half-elves (of human/elven descent) and some trade and diplomacy between Neuth and the other ten polities so the hatred can't be 100% prevalent. At the same time half-elves are a persecuted minority who've mostly been driven out of the country, although they breed true with each other (and both "parent" races IIRC) so they aren't going away any time soon.

Trey said...

Given the Nazi Germany parallels in Rahman's write-up I don't know that the racism is amped too much, though the target is the Ercii half-elves, as you say. Humans, perhaps, they are more specifically out for revenge on, though it does suggest they consider them inferior.

But again, I'm not trying to expand on the canonical setting, so it doesn't have a lot of bearing one way or the other.

Anne said...

I like the science fantasy touches in your take here. These are much crueler elves than we usually see. Between that, their vanity, and the crumbling remains of their cities, they almost remind me of vampires.

It would make sense that an elvish society that is profoundly racist and supremacist regarding humans would also persecute any half-elves.

Trey said...

Thanks, Anne. I need to do a post on the half-elves, too, I think.

bombasticus said...

"The beast Man" might become the best line of the month. Suddenly a whole mythology opens up like a slightly colder Jungle Book . . . elf songs, chaunts, scary stories they tell when the sun goes down and their cold fires bloom like spruce needles. Man came to the forest once and can't be allowed in again. Mostly Mowgli, a little Bambi with teeth.

Trey said...

I can't take credit for that turn of phrase. It's likely Serling. It's from Planet of the Apes:

“Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.”

Dick McGee said...

Mostly proves that Serling (or at least the pseudo-apes mouthing his words there) didn't know a damn thing about actual non-human primates. Many (probably all) species of them will sometimes kill for mating opportunities (lust) and food (greed), and the more social ones display pack behavior that looks an awful lot like killing for sport. I'm not even sure the incidence of that kind of behavior is lower per capita than for homo saps - there are an awful lot more of us than all the rest put together these days, so it's really easy to find examples than it would be with other species' much smaller populations.

As one of my old biology teachers used to say, opposable thumbs and rotten behavior seem to go hand in hand.

Trey said...

I don't know. You're assuming Serling agrees with the sentiment written in the ape holy text in a film that has already shown us the corruption and conspiracy to hide the truth among ape religious and governmental officials.

Dick McGee said...

He still wrote what the apes are saying, whether he believed it himself or not. It's more amusing to think he's making a point about them being even more corrupt and hypocritical than they're already portrayed as, though - but I've certainly run into folks who think our real-world evolutionary cousins are saints, in a sort of weird twist on the "noble savage" myth. They aren't, of course. Primates are too often terrible to each other, whether they wear clothes or not. :)

On a more on-topic note, I think I'll adopt this old homebrew item if I ever run a set of intolerant elves based off your idea:

Seems like the kind of thing Neuth elves would get a real kick out of. Making up a list of unpleasant slurs and insults aimed at neighboring species in advance would be a good plan. maybe even record a loop of it on one's phone to play when the armor triggers. :)

Anne said...

Dr Zaius very well might believe in the special fallen-ness of humans. The various policies of hunting them down on horseback, castrating the men, lobotomizing anyone who might re-invent language, etc all suggest that the ape government takes those commandments seriously, whether anyone "believes" the text or not.

On the other hand, even leaving aside their treatment of the surviving humans, we can see that ape society is internally racist, that their government has minority rule by orangutans, that it's a theocracy, and that members of the government have the power to meddle in the operation of virtually any organization under their rule.

So Dr Zaius is either deluded enough to believe in the inherent saintliness of apes, despite the obvious flaws in his society, his ruling class, and himself; or of he's cynical enough to parrot the party line (and subjugate another sentient species on its basis) despite not believing it.

Actually the apes' treatment of humans is probably not so dissimilar from the way the elves of Neuth treat them.

Dick McGee said...

@Anne It's been a very long time since I read the book (which wasn't the easiest thing to find in English and I have no idea how accurate the translation was) but from what I recall I'd go with "cynical Doc Z" of the options presented. It would fit the overall satirical tone to have a scientist who's willing to say whatever it takes to keep his grant money coming.

Of course, anyone who hasn't read the book (which is the vast majority of people IME) isn't going to really get any of that. The movies aren't exactly faithful adaptations in either tone or substance.

I suspect the elves of Neuth would *like* to treat humans the way apes treat men, and maybe they do when they think no one's likely to find out, but given their relative military strength compared to their neighbors they sure aren't pulling that sort of thing out in the open. IIRC the canon timeline saw at least one of their big expansionist pushes stomped flat (and Ider Bolis burned) by the Zorn goblins, of all people. Neuth is not home to a master race, no matter what the inhabitants think of themselves.