Monday, October 4, 2021

Minaria: Half-Elves

This continues the series on my version of the world of Minaria, extrapolated from the map, manuals, and pieces of the boardgame, Divine Right.

In my post about the elves of Neuth last week I neglected to discuss the Ercii or Half-elves. The name comes from a contraction of the Elvish term for "mixed blood." Half-elves have faced persecution within the forest of Neuth, alternately being expelled or limited in terms of their movements and activities.

Some Ercii, however, do perform an important function within Elven society, and members of that select group have even managed to prosper. Elven nobility finds direct engagement with financial matters beneath their station. Unwilling however, to leave these matters strictly to elves or lower station, have brought on individual Ercii or sometimes groups of them as factors or bookkeepers. Some of these have become prosperous enough to be able to act independently acted as moneylenders to other noble houses.

The Elvish Crown has also employed Ercii as ambassadors or diplomats to other lands or and allows them to operate as money changers (so long as the Crown gets its share of the profits). Some of the these Ercii have not only become wealthy but able to wield (discretely) a great deal of political power. Perhaps some times more power than the Elves know, as they are the conduit through which the kingdom interacts with the outside world.

Still, their status as second class citizens is something they are unlikely to forget. Many Ercii in service to Elven nobles were taken from their families as infants and raised as servants to the noble house. More than one has had their fortune seized by a covetous noble who claimed it was their due. Others have lost their lives for their effrontery of being a noble's creditor.


Dick McGee said...

Obvious parallels to the historical situation of Medieval European Jews there, although here they're persecuted and discriminated against for their heritage rather than their religion (not that Jewish ethnicity wasn't also a factor in their abuse, but religion seemed to dominate the narrative there). Brings to mind the question of what deity/pantheon the Neuth elves worship, if any, and whether half-elves share those beliefs or have their own specific god/gods? Do half-elves outside of Neuth generally follow their human parent's belief system, or that of the culture they find themselves in?

D&D has often tended to portray half-elves as sort of social chameleons who work to fit in wherever they find themselves, but having them as borderline pariahs in both elf and human cultures has been a thing too. Even when they're explicitly stated to breed true with each other and/or one or both "parent" species they never seem to go off and do their own thing, they always seem to be defined by their relations to humanity, elves, or both. Might be interesting to riff on the idea of some society of half-elven supremacists who look down on both parent species and see themselves as better than both - outside of Neuth, obviously, and probably equally unpopular with human cultures.

bombasticus said...

At this point I would even skip over the "are ercii sterile" argument and posit that Neuthites have every single chromosome in common with people from the other Minarian realms. They're biologically human and their kids are too, no matter who the other parent is.

The distinction is cultural, ingrained, horrific and sad. Some kids trigger a deep nationalist nerve among the Neuthites and are raised as outcastes, without any of the fancy "elf" paraphernalia (ear tucks at puberty, fancy shoes, longbow lessons, the evergreen movement symbol). Others learn to consider themselves superior and alien life forms.

Ambassadors who want to work with Ider Bolis sigh and go along with it. It's easier that way.

Anne said...

Bombasticus's idea strikes me as very sad, although I suppose it's not so different from real world racism, or the way (historically at least) SOME parents have treated their own interracial children.

Minaria's elven supremacists remind me a little of M:TG's elves from Lorwyn and Morningtide.

bombasticus said...

New data!!

I see that the fans have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to explain how the high princess of Neuth is popularly called "halfelven."

She is derisively (not to mention unfairly and incorrectly) referred to as "the Half-Elven" by her detractors. Hjafion was linked romantically in her youth to Adillh. Alas for the two, it was deemed politically and socially unacceptable for Adillh to have a half-elven wife, and they were separated. By virtue of her position as highest-ranking priestess of the royal faith, however, Hjafion is titular High Princess, despite the fact she has no real power. There are many rumours suggesting an uneasy romantic triangle between the monarch, the princess, and her husband.

But while the love triangle is interesting I doubt a racist church would tolerate a mixed priestess at any level, much less basically consider her co-ruler. Is there a more elegant solution? Maybe they are actually married and the racists are stuck with her?