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Re:Why do we love (or hate) elves? - 2006/06/10 15:46 In my hanging out with folks in the past couple of weeks, I've heard much on this discussion and have failed to jump into the fray before now. Let the record show I have nothing against elves in general. Mind you, this is an all encompassing statement that fails to get into the nitty-gritty of the argument.

Firstly the talk of stats got my mind started on how I tend to roll chars in the great equalizer I like to call BESM. In the average campaign one can give their char stats however they please, so long as they keep in mind that the points that go into their Mind-Body-Soul stats is taken out of the same pool that pays for attributes. Given a situation in which racial restraints are not in place, I tended to roll chars that were higher in the Mind and Body categories, and weaker in body. A lot of that was due to the fact that I felt it more accurately reflected someone such as myself who is strong academically and spiritually/emotionally, but is both small in size with a body that is not very strong (especially since my illness). It was my hope with such chars that strength in mind and spirit could overcome the short-comings left by a weakened body.

In my readings of Tolkien later on, (my first real run-ins with classic elves) I found myself fascinated by the race. Their culture of art and music and affinity for nature was something that led me to identify with them the most of the people (though Hobbits came a close second with their multitude of daily meals, and Strider was, is, and forever shall be my favorite char) In my readings, especially in Fellowship, I was continuously struck by the special skills of Legolas (The black haired one, not Orlando Bloom :p). In addition to heightened senses, an ability to listen to and understand a great many of languages, go without sleep, walk on top of snow and run and jump and raid like the best of ‘em, I was constantly asking myself “If there anything he can’t do?” Now it must be mentioned at this juncture that in my first run-in with Tokin’s elves (The first couple chapters in the story) I wasn’t picturing tall, proud, beings skilled in archery, magic and lore… instead I was thinking of small, silly little sprites, very much like gnomes, who had more mundane professions such as helping the man at the North Pole with holiday labor, cobbling shoes, or making and distributing delicious baked goods from a world headquarters located within a giant tree. The Tolkien elves we nearly a 180 degree about-face from these previous conceptions, and I adored them.

From then on in BESM I rolled chars who represented that particular setting’s elven-esque race. I liked playing magic users allot at the time and the races just seemed to fit both the aesthetic and the stat-line. However I never considered elves to be the arrogant, pessimistic and whatnot, race that I’ve since learned they are regarded to be. Instead all of my chars were rather unique, but each with a sense of curiosity and wanderlust/adventure (whether intrinsic or the product of circumstance). It wasn’t until my introduction to D&D or D20 BESM where I discovered the more frail stat line given to them. It was after having to work with this, and being stuck in campaigns with decidedly anti-elven party members that I stopped rolling the elves for a good long while.

Nevertheless, artistically I still found myself doodling people with long ears and other elven features. In an earlier conversation I had with Vergil, I pointed out that Elves are simply predisposed to be attractive, they offer the familiarity of a human as most elves are very very human in features, but offer just enough sense of the exotic to make them very appealing chars. While this does have its negative side-effects, such as the ‘Greater Theorem of Female Elves Never Wear Clothing”, it is my belief that the reason why we see so many elf-like characters in video games these days is that they achieve a time-tested mix of common and unusual. Players are able to enjoy the feeling of being immersed in a new world, without leaving behind too much of the old one. It’s amazing how much of an effect pointed ears have on a person’s perception of a work…

Some of you might remember the discussion on this board about the new alliance race in World of Warcraft, which in turn sparked discussion of would in addition/exclusion of a specific race affect some’s decision of getting into the game. I charged that my reasons against the game were both due to cost, and a lack of desire to play through yet another Hi-fan reiteration… which it had all the trappings of humans, dwarves, and elves, versus Orcs and Trolls. I had no desire to play some tall, spindly, blond-haired wisp with long ears who could only toss around elements or fire a bow. It wasn’t until I was given the opportunity to try it out that I was able to see first-hand how the Night elf race looked, worked and fit in with the world. I won’t go into too much detail but here’s a quick break-down… I really liked the NE’s aesthetics… they weren’t your run-of-the-mill North-Western European looking twigs. They are powerfully built, the largest in size of the alliance races, with exotic hair, skin and face markings. Their home was not one of Medieval France, or Ewok tree-huts… it was the forest yes, but it also blended in architectural elements I had been yet to see in a fantasy setting. Overall it was new and refreshing compared to what I had grown used to. Do those who say that al elves are frail, they have never seen a Night Elf male… no semblance to a wiry bishonen there, this muscles alone are a sight along with his craggy facial features. These elves don’t look like they’ve spent their lives in the lap of peaceful luxury, but rather warriors. (I swear the male NE’s calf muscle is the size of my head). The affinity for nature, as I mentioned before, is something that I can relate to. On the flipside of this gamer-geek that you all know, there is a trail-hiking, forest-camping, lake-swimming, river-canoeing, pond-fishing, environmentalist, nature aficionado. In WoW, I like zones like Darkshore, I feel at home there between the dim-wet forest and the sea. I play a druid which harnesses the power of nature, which we all know can be a terrifying and capricious force in our own world. It’s never a weakness to love and respect nature… if you don’t she’s often apt to kick your ass.

Now it stands to be mentioned that yes, especially on the RP servers to get heaping helpings of melodrama or skirt-chasing amongst the Night elf community, with smatterings of arrogance and emo-agnst. This is a point I cannot argue or say that I enjoy. If anything it is the unfortunate stereotype of the race that is perpetually used and re-used both knowingly and unintentionally by players, writers, and developers. However elves are not the only ones with such stereotypes. Gnomes are perpetually looked on to be hyper-active annoyance machines, Humans to be either courageous or dopey (with little in-between), Dwarves are seemingly perpetually alcoholic, and Orcs are almost always barbaric war-monsters with Trolls usually not much better.

And so back to the original question, ‘why do we love/hate elves?’ This is an argument that has as many facets, concessions, and victories as ‘why do we love/hate ~insert current commander-in-chief here~?” or “why do we love/hate ~popular song/music/celebrity/movie/book/idea~” Almost everyone will have an opinion, and all for different reasons, some will walk away with different things to consider which my or may not place their stance in a different light. At the end of the day however what really matters is what the individual truly thinks, and so long as they stay true to that in making their decisions, there can be no argument.

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Why do we love (or hate) elves?
Dominion 2006/05/21 13:42
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Sprink 2006/05/22 09:18
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Vergil 2006/05/24 03:02
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St00fy 2006/05/24 18:53
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Dominion 2006/05/24 18:57
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Vergil 2006/05/25 02:18
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Dominion 2006/05/25 20:53
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Bharroth 2006/05/30 19:18
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manchego 2006/05/31 22:44
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Vergil 2006/06/01 01:47
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steinst2 2006/06/05 00:03
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Vergil 2006/06/09 02:57
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Kitty 2006/06/10 15:46
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