So here we are, with a pristine continent ready to be inhabited. I’ve already got a good idea where I’m going to be putting the various fantasy races, but for the sake of this series let’s take it step by step so you can see how I got there.
When creating a new setting I like to choose one or two races that are dominant. It doesn’t matter so much how they got there, whether through military strength or simple numerical superiority, but they will be the ones around which the rest of the world is shaped. I’ve mentioned previously that Egyptian Elves were the inspiration for my setting. In order to build outward from that basic idea we’re going to have to answer a lot of questions. Keep in mind that I’ll be building upon the races as they are in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.
What is it about the race that makes them different from, or similar to the standard? My elves are truly immortal, living forever so long as they aren’t killed. This in turn means that they need some kind of population control. This lead me to the idea that there are always 1000 elves (hey, it’s a nice round number) and that when one dies another is allowed to be born.
The concept of immortal life would impact every part of their society and is a rich source of inspiration. The elves would have infinite patience in all things, since waiting is never an issue. Just like the elven parents who might have to wait 100 years before they’re allowed to conceive, elven rulers would be happy to spend that much time building grand palaces and monuments. But with only 1000 elves in the entire setting, you can bet that they aren’t doing the building themselves…
What kind of relationship does the race have with the other races? Due to their much greater numbers and their finite lifespans the elves consider humankind to be little more than animals. Humans are kept as slaves by their elven masters, who use them to build their palaces and pyramid tombs.
I don’t want all humans to be enslaved in the setting’s present day, but this sets a backdrop or history for the two races that is full of racial tension.
How is the race able to hold onto its dominant position? I’d like to keep the old trope of dwarven/elven hatred and will therefore need a way for the elves to be able to defend themselves against a foe with greater numbers. A handful of elves needs to be able to hold their own in combat against an army of dwarves. Luckily, the elves’ immortality is once again the answer. They are able, with time, to master any fighting style they find appealing, and can pair it with whatever powerful magic, tactics, weapon-crafting, etc. they wish. A single elf who has dedicated a millennium of their life to fighting would be a terrifying opponent.
So the elves of my setting are a patient society with some interesting views on life and death. The untimely death of a single elf would be a national tragedy. The birth of that elf’s successor would be accompanied by a huge celebration. I imagine that many of them believe in a form of reincarnation, with the spirit of the deceased being reborn in the child.
These elves see time differently from anyone else. With none of the haste of the ‘lesser’ races they can spend decades studying a single subject before deciding if they like it or not. No time is ever wasted, because for an elf there is always more.
As a final addition, I was thinking today about funerary rites for such a society. I think that on occasion an elf would decide that it was their time to die. Such a death would have a lot of ceremony surrounding it. I also like the idea that their body doesn’t simply stop the way a mortal’s would. Instead, when an elf dies their body petrifies almost immediately, leaving behind a statue. Elven cities would have a large tomb, or hall of the dead, where the statues of passed elves would be kept.
So, here we have the elven capital of ??. In next Monday’s post I’ll take a look at humankind, how they’ve been doing since their emancipation, and how they managed to free themselves in the first place. But for now, here’s the map, complete with some elven cities.