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Delia
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Elves

Postby Delia » Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:38 am

Just starting a topic here as Drayn's dwarves managed to light a spark.

I will just start with one thing that has been bugging me for a while now. The elven council. Or should I say...The Lilith's Game?

It is one of the things that work to remove order, stability and respect from the elven society given its flip-floppety nature. Given elven society could(should?)be described as unyielding, rigid the council seems just like a poke in the eye. Of course, it does not help that most player elves are(seem to be)of the free-willed, free-thinking, free-spirited, rebel elf variety instead of the stock "Yes sir! Right away sir!"-conforming and unquestioning follower variety.

All in all I feel that the elven society should be more unforgiving and any who step out of the norm run the risk of being labeled as dark, or atleast there would be measures taken and that said elf being corrected would not even take that as a grave offence. Infact it might be pmeasurable in ways as any great deviation could feel akin to a sickness and disease and finding your place and sense of order would bring relief.

Anyways, just some quick thoughts. Now, back to work...
"To be is to do" - Sokrates
"To do is to be" - Jean-Paul Sartre
"Do be do be do" - Frank Sinatra

Zehren
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Re: Elves

Postby Zehren » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:26 am

I'm just going to mention that most elves, fantasy-wide, including (but not in any manner exclusively) Geas, are portrayed primarily as visually perfect humans. So visually perfect that they never bodily age beyond their prime.

It is a pretty disappointing trend, since the use of races could be used for major exploration in terms of culture, norms, society, morality and psychology.

I blame the Tolkien copiers. (But not Tolkien himself.)
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Zehren
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Re: Elves

Postby Zehren » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:39 am

Delia wrote:I will just start with one thing that has been bugging me for a while now. The elven council. Or should I say...The Lilith's Game?

It is one of the things that work to remove order, stability and respect from the elven society given its flip-floppety nature. Given elven society could(should?)be described as unyielding, rigid the council seems just like a poke in the eye.

All in all I feel that the elven society should be more unforgiving and any who step out of the norm run the risk of being labeled as dark, or atleast there would be measures taken and that said elf being corrected would not even take that as a grave offence. Infact it might be pmeasurable in ways as any great deviation could feel akin to a sickness and disease and finding your place and sense of order would bring relief.


I am double posting because my prior post adresses very general issues while this one is far more specific.

First off, in regards to Elves having a physical need for order: Would it work better, world-wide, to give all worshippers 'cravings' for certain things? It would push most everyone towards certain irrational behaviours, and be more observable as a general trend. Of course, if going by elves specifically craving order by being elves, and not by being Tanielite, I pity the Elven population of Elor. They must be in at least constant minor pain.

Secondly, the council: I personally think it would be better to have the ruling queen rule, and reduce the judge to simply judging according to law, and have no players directly making rules (or someone could get to play as queen Gwenlanea? Referencing Drayn's play-as-an-NPC thread). However, if keeping the council, there is one very easy way to remove large parts of its chaotic nature - each ruling could be in effect for a minimum of, say, three IC years. (Half a real year.) This would eliminate constant back and forths quite easily - and be explained ICly as 'evaluation of new law proposal in effect time'.
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Re: Elves

Postby Drayn » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:22 am

I don't think the law would be static when you consider the Tanielite point of view. They don't view law as perfect, quite the opposite. They view law as a shadow of order, a rough shape that needs refining. To not have means to readily change the law is to treat it as perfect, which runs contrary to the teachings of Taniel.

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Re: Elves

Postby Drayn » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:50 am

OK, Really Elvish Elves:

From what I've observed and come to conclude about elves here are some thoughts:

Beauty
Elves are themselves beautiful and live in beautiful surroundings. Elves would most likely have a heavy interest in art, be it painting, sculpting, singing or dancing, possibly to the point that if you don't pursue and excel at some form of art, you're a bit of a weirdo.

Law and Order
Being made by Taniel means a certain amount of order is built in. Every part of life is probably ritualised in some fashion. Given the fluid nature of the understanding of true order and the elvish notion that they will never be perfect, this will probably result in variations, things being most consistent within a family line. Each family is likely to have personal customs and observances, e.g. "Our family always drink tea and balance the family accounts on the first day of the month". Honorifics and modes of address are likely plentiful and elvish language is likely to reflect that with formal and informal modes similar to Japanese or Scots Gaelic (Ciamar a tha sibh for a formal greeting Ciamar a tha thu for informal).

History
This one is probably a bit odd, but history is likely going to be fairly poorly recorded by elves...mostly because they were there when it happened. Humans record history and celebrate it because they live such short lives and doing so provides a sense of continuity. Elves on the other hand are much more likely to live in the now. The broad strokes of history and culture will remain consistent, mostly out of habit, but the finer details will probably end up being forgotten or intentionally discarded to keep elvish society fresh and vibrant. A elf would no more treasure an old work of art than you would treasure your first mobile phone, a few fond memories perhaps, but you'd probably just put it away in a drawer and forget about it again. I dare say elves don't especially value antiques unless they have extraordinary personal value.

Point in case, Eal-Deliah was sacked and abandoned. Granted, the place is cursed, but historically, no effort has been made to reclaim it. Elvandar was created as a city in its own right, it doesn't duplicate Eal-Deliah and elves seem genuinely happy to have their new city, with little if any concern about the old one. Big statues of Taniel were the done thing in the old city, but Elvandar seems to favour tapestries and stained glass representations now.

When you live, potentially, forever, zeitgeist becomes necessary to remain abreast of change which will happen whether you want it to or not. You're also going to end up remembering a LOT of stuff, which will become redundant sooner or later. This will happen several times during your own lifetime, so it's only natural that you become accustomed to letting it happen (or becoming deeply depressed). Does this mean elvish culture is a constant giddying flux? Nope! Society is just one great big art project. A bit chiselled of here, a touch of sanding there. A painter doesn't miss the blank canvas.

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Re: Elves

Postby Drayn » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:54 am

Newness and Novelty

To shorter lived races, elves might seem resistant to new ideas, or slow to change. This is inaccurate. It's just that anything that lasts less than a decade is viewed as a short lived fad to someone who is multiple hundreds of years old. There's no point getting excited about some new thing or place if it's going to be gone in a few years time. They'll show an interest, sure, but they won't really commit to being passionate about something unless it looks like it'll be worth the investment, as a result, a human might not live long enough to see an elf choose a new favourite song.

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Re: Elves

Postby ferranifer » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:01 pm

I'm not sure I agree that Elves have to follow the classic romantic languid archetype from the Tolkien elves. Forostar is a land submerged in a fair amount of conflict and elves wouldn't take for granted that they are going to live forever in an environment that is constantly threatened by death and war with humans, undead, goblins, dragons and what not. Of course, the reasoning kind of falls apart when everyone can resurrect and keep going, but well then under that light everyone is immortal and should feel the same way?

I think there is plenty of space for adventuring elves that get excited about the trifling little matters of their non-immortal companions, develop relationships with them and even breed with them. In fact, I think this kind of character archetype fits better with the adventuring nature of the game's environment. There really is only a handful of characters that do not play that way. Should all elves consider every one of their friends and mates to be passing and unimportant? Shouldn't elves be capable of deep, commited Love?

On a sidenote, I like Zehren's idea of god driven cravings as an in game mechanic to remind people that worshiping a god has roleplaying implications that shouldn't be ignored. But on the other hand, I'm not sure if all elves would be defacto followers of Taniel, specially in a world with a polytheist pantheon. Or that all followers of Taniel are equally devout. In fact, I find it extremely unlikely. Zhakrin for example, would be a pretty fitting deity for highly educated elves. Agnosticism would also be quite plausible for certain characters. Concepts like resurrection and "god given" powers are subject to interpretation even within the game's world and I imagine certain people to have reached a level of education and wisdom that allows them to see beyond the structures of the Church or the "religion" and see them as forms of government. Which makes space for "rebellious" elves.

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Re: Elves

Postby Sairina » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:18 pm

The idea of god-given cravings is interesting, but it should probably be dependant on the worshipped god, not on the creator (otherwise, where would that land us with humans? :shock: ). Especially since Elves worshipping Evren are anything but uncommon, even if you don't count player characters - there's practically everyone in Elor, and I distinctly recall some chanting to Evren even within Elvandar.

Agnosticism would also be quite plausible for certain characters. Concepts like resurrection and "god given" powers are subject to interpretation even within the game's world and I imagine certain people to have reached a level of education and wisdom that allows them to see beyond the structures of the Church or the "religion" and see them as forms of government. Which makes space for "rebellious" elves.

I tend to be rather suspicious of agnostic/atheist characters in a setting like this that has miracles and direct godly intervention. It always reeks a bit of the (modern, free-thinking) player wanting to play his character as "wise and educated" by having them "see through" what effectively _no one_ else around them does. Such a character should be burned as a heretic more quickly than they could say "agnostic", and no one would consider the Holy Church any more evil for it. Look at the educated and highly intelligent men of our medieval times, their education and hence their way of thinking was a product of their time.

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Re: Elves

Postby Drayn » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:52 pm

Atheism is a daft concept in Geas, but a certain form of Agnosticism could be plausable. Not so much the angle of not knowing whether gods exist or not, but which god is best/more powerful/what their MO is etc. Someone could genuinely be undecided:

"Yeah, Taniel is great, I'm just not sure the path of order is right for me. Gwen is great too, but I'm not sure love is the answer"

Technically I guess this is apostasy rather than agnosticism.

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Sairina
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Re: Elves

Postby Sairina » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:34 am

Atheism is a daft concept in Geas, but a certain form of Agnosticism could be plausable. Not so much the angle of not knowing whether gods exist or not, but which god is best/more powerful/what their MO is etc. Someone could genuinely be undecided:

"Yeah, Taniel is great, I'm just not sure the path of order is right for me. Gwen is great too, but I'm not sure love is the answer"

Technically I guess this is apostasy rather than agnosticism.

Yeah, I agree that should be possible, but whatever that is, it's definitely not agnosticism.

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Re: Elves

Postby ferranifer » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:58 am

I don't think historical European middle Age or any other monotheist timeframe is a good point of reference for the society of Forostar.

There is no real historical reference in the game world that relates with that "believe or else" scenario. In fact, if you were to look at the game's history you'll see that it is common that elven characters of renown are not Taniel followers at all. There is a ton of Evrenites elves and a good number of Zhakrinites. The only real religious prosecution in existence in this game is what the Crusaders do, and mind you they are not related with the elven lifestyle at all and they also somehow mingle Taniel and Evren in the same message. Plus you could argue that they are insane. You would think that when so many elves are allowed to believe in something that is not Taniel without being ostracised or burnt at a stake that means that the Church does not actually exert the kind of influence and is not shaping society to the extent that you talk about.

Asralites have a pretty firm grip on Arborea, with pretty darn aggressive mechanisms in place to guarantee their control on society, but then don't really exhibit that kind of fanatic monotheist behaviour (even though they have the power to do so if they so chose to). I'm unsure if Asadorians are punished for not following Sathonys, could be, but Asador definitely has a different vibe than Elvandar and it would stand to reason that the Sathonites do govern Asador through force and punishment.

I don't recall a single event of an elf being killed or in fact punished in any way shape or form for not being a Taniel follower (with the obvious exclusion of darkelves and followers of the dark gods).

So, I don't think the church of Taniel necessarily holds that amount of power in elven society and it would be interesting to explore scenarios that do not imply such a thing.

About agnosticism, there are many types of magic in Geas, and the things gods can do in Forostar are only extraordinary because of the magnitude of the power, not because of their nature. In other words, given enough time, unlimited life and a touch of hocus pocus, it's not crazy to think that some characters in the game could in fact become gods. So, what for some characters is divine and untouchable, for other characters is simply an extremely powerful aspect of something they deal with everyday. It makes perfect sense that such characters hold deities with much less reverence than your average villager and start questioning the validity of any claims of divinity. At the very least, their angle is different and justifiably agnostic.

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Re: Elves

Postby Drayn » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:35 am

Heresy! The gods are eternal!

*assistant whispers in ear*

Well, yes, elves can TECHNICALLY count as eternal. But the gods created life!

*another whisper*

Tshaharks don't count ¬_¬

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Re: Elves

Postby Zehren » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:38 am

Agnosticism, according to wikipedia, is the view that the truth values of certain claims - usually religious - are unknown or unknowable.

I personally find this hard to reconcile with the world of Geas.

Apostasy is certainly possible.
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Re: Elves

Postby Sairina » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:52 pm

I haven't argued that Elves could not worship anyone other than Taniel (it would probably be uncommon for it to be anything other than Evren though, and treated as such by society - not necessarily with aggression unless it's an evil deity, but a Zhakrin-worshipping elf would certainly be considered a curiosity (and just to make this clear, Sairina is a Zhakrinite herself).

There is still a huge difference between dedicating yourself to the worship of an unusual god in a pantheon and denying the pantheon's validity altogether. We don't even need to consider our own monotheistic religions, there are plenty of pantheistic ones - they usually are more relaxed on acknowledging the possibility of the existence of other gods and spirits and whatnot outside of their religion that might be worshipped by other people, but have no particular significance for them. But not worshipping _any_ god is something altogether different, and a _very_ new and modern concept in our world (and whereever it occured in earlier more religious societies, was *much more* hated than any mere other religion).

I wouldn't argue that some sufficiently powerful mage might not come to think of themselves as something like a god, but to me that implies a certain insanity on his part and would certainly not be looked upon favourably by society (any of them, whether it's Elvandar, Arbora or Asador).


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